Drinks mat launched with a life-saving goal
Charitable organisation Brighter Futures has joined forces with Staffordshire Football Association, Stoke City FC, Port Vale FC and London Northwestern? Railway Rail, as well as a range of local organisations including Keele University Students Union and The Exchange Bar and Grill, to break the silence around male suicide and raise awareness of the support available through the Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline. The shared goal is to help save lives.
Recent figures show that while suicide figures have declined nationally, according to the Office of National Statistics 5,821 suicides were registered across the UK in 2017*. That’s one death by suicide every two hours. Despite being the lowest in over 30 years – male suicides are a staggering three times higher than female suicide rates. A trend which has remained constant since the mid-1990s. Suicide remains the highest cause for preventable deaths for men under the age of 45.
Any death of a loved one, friend, family member, work colleague or even that of someone you knew through social circles can have a profound effect for those touched. It is estimated that for every death by suicide between six to 60 people are profoundly affected. It could be argued that even this figure is conservative.
Stoke City FC and Port Vale FC as well all Staffordshire Football Associations local clubs have joined railway stations in Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford, Tamworth and Lichfield and local organisations in getting behind the campaign by stocking an eye catching drinks mat bearing the message, ‘Mate, you don’t seem yourself . ..’ The reverse side simply stating; ‘We’re here to listen and the Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline’s contact details.’
Gareth Thomas, Staffordshire FA Communications & Relationship Officer added:
‘Staffordshire FA are currently working with a number of key partners and mental health organisations across Staffordshire to raise awareness of mental health issues to the grassroots football community, and importantly, raise awareness of local support available to individuals and clubs across the county. We’re delighted to be supporting Brighter Futures with this initiative and we will be working with grassroots football clubs and leagues across Staffordshire to distribute the drinks mats and help to promote this important message.’
It is hoped that by placing these mats in locations such as supporter bars, hospitality suites, entertainment venues and railway stations, where men are known to frequent, that the valuable message of support will reach men who may be struggling with their mental health.
The Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline received more than 900 contacts over the last 12 months related to suicide with figures for calls made by men at 303. The figures support the reality that men can find it difficult to open up and talk about their mental health. A widely agreed contributing factor in male suicide rates.
Mark Lawton, Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline Manager said:
‘If you are feeling stressed, worried or struggling to cope. You are not alone. While it may feel that there are no other options – suicide is never the best solution to what is often a temporary problem or struggle. The reality is – it can be hard to see that. We can’t stress enough there is always a way forward, there are always other options. We are here to listen – no judgment, just confidential listening support.
We hope that if even just one person reaches out for support whether it’s to the Helpline or to someone else, then the campaign has potentially helped prevent the preventable – another person whose life is taken by suicide. We’ve been overwhelmed by the support for this campaign.’
It is only by talking about this epidemic that society can begin to build public awareness, reduce stigma, and develop ways to tackle this very real and preventable cause of death.
While the reasons are far from simple as to why rates for death by suicide for men are so much higher. What is clear is that men often struggle to reach out for help and talk about their mental health and instead struggle on alone.
While mental health organisations and those affected by suicide across the UK continue to try to ignite the conversation around mental health and male suicide and encourage men and women to accept its okay to not be okay. It is clear that the more common place it is to see messages of support, the more widely we speak about this topic in the same way we would physical ill health, the more commonplace and accepted conversations around mental health must become along with the development of strategies and plans to ensure we tackle this issue. The knock-on effect surely accepting it’s okay to seek support.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline or interested in backing the campaign should contact Mark Lawton, Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline Manager, 01782 40600
The Helpline is open from 7pm-2am weekdays, and from 2pm-2am weekends.
People who need our help can call the Helpline for FREE on 0808 800 2234, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or text 07860 022821. An instant messaging service is also available at www.brighter-futures.org.uk. The Helpline also offers a ring out service to those needing extra support.