‘Desperately needed’ mental health group for men launches in Weston

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 September 2020

Ben Akers.    Picture: Talk Club

Ben Akers. Picture: Talk Club

Talk Club

A talk club where men can chat openly about their battle to cope with modern day life has launched in Weston.

Talk Club will start at the For All Healthy Living Centre today (Thursday).    Picture: Talk ClubTalk Club will start at the For All Healthy Living Centre today (Thursday). Picture: Talk Club

The group sessions are the brainchild of film maker Ben Akers, whose best friend Steve Yates took his own life at the age of 38 in 2014.

Ben teamed up with musician Gavin Thorpe to launch the Bristol sessions, and the Weston club started at the For All Healthy Living Centre, in Lonsdale Avenue, which marked World Suicide Prevention Day on Thursday.

Neil Harris, who will be running the Weston meetings, said: “I felt that it was really important to bring Talk Club to an area where I was brought up myself and am proud to live.

Talk Club will start at the For All Healthy Living Centre today (Thursday).    Picture: Talk ClubTalk Club will start at the For All Healthy Living Centre today (Thursday). Picture: Talk Club

“Talk Club allows men to get together to talk about their feelings and experiences in a safe, friendly and confidential way. It’s not a therapy group, it’s a supportive space where men can talk and listen to each other in a positive way.”

North Somerset Council is also backing the initiative in town, the first authority to do so in the UK.

Cochair of North Somerset Male Health Stakeholder Group, Daran Bevan, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this initiative – men need to open up. Groups like this are desperately needed at the moment.”

Neil Harris.    Picture: Neil HarrisNeil Harris. Picture: Neil Harris

The latest Office for National Statistics data shows the suicide rate rose to 11 deaths per 100,000 in 2019 across England and Wales, with deaths among men reaching their highest level for two decades – 16.9 deaths per 100,000.

Despite this, the number of people losing their lives to suicide in North Somerset has fallen. Public Health England data shows there were 58 cases of deaths of this kind in the area between 2017 and 2019.

It means North Somerset’s suicide rate was around 10.5 per 100,000 population – down slightly from 11 between 2016 and 2018, and men accounted for the majority of these deaths registered over the three years – 45 compared with 13 women.

Daran Bevan.    Picture: Neil HarrisDaran Bevan. Picture: Neil Harris

Bristol Talk Club has been a huge success, with more than 1,300 members online and group meet-ups taking place in the UK.

The following Weston Talk Club meet-up will take place at the For All Healthy Living Centre on October 8 between 7-9pm.

Places need to be booked in advance and the group size is limited to around 12 men per session.

To book, contact Neil via neil@thinkbacklookforward.co.uk

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