Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

Maybe you saw this in the news or even went and had a look for yourself, but earlier this year ITV HQ supported a charity called CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) by having an art installation on their buildings roof.

The installation was the work of sculptor Mark Jenkins and featured 84 full size male figures, dressed and set on the rooftop edge of ITV HQ. The reason is to raise awareness of the 84 men a week that take their own lives in the UK. Male suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK.

For over a decade CVM have been speaking about the issues facing men and in particular men in church, and have been supporting the church to respond with a long-term evangelistic strategy. We have seen thousands of men respond, lives dramatically transformed and taken from the very point of despair to an abundant new life.

Part of the work of CVM has been to emphasise the importance of enabling the right conditions for men to be real, honest, open and share with other men what life is really like. The embarrassment of a dodgy prostrate, a marriage failure or redundancy that brought in the black clouds of depression.

This stuff is real, and what we have seen is that as we enable men to build friendships, to share their faith and lives whilst doing stuff they actually want to do (like eating, sport or burning stuff, did I miss anything? That’s a joke!) men will talk, share and deal with things, and (I can speak from experience), it helps.

For me, this is part of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. This is rolling up our sleeves and being willing to not just invite a bloke to church one Sunday, but journey right through the chaos, and invest in a long term plan to see a culture shifting amount of men discover real life in Jesus!

The sculpture at ITV is an incredibly powerful reminder that we mustn’t look away or allow ourselves to become numb to these statistics, they represent lives of men in their prime who need a rescue. Who will help?

During this week we will be sharing information and experiences around this issue of mental health and men.

If you need to reach out and begin the journey away from the precipice the starting point is to tell someone. Talk to someone you trust, let family or friends know what’s going on for you, they may be able to offer help and support. If you find it difficult to talk to someone you know these free helplines are there to help.

Help and support is available right now if you need it. You don’t have to struggle with difficult feelings alone.

If you’re worried about someone, try to get them to talk to you. Ask open-ended questions like: “How do you feel about…?” Don’t worry about having the answers. Just listening to what someone has to say and taking it seriously can be more helpful. See Samaritans’ tips on how to start a difficult conversation.

Image Credit: Alex Iby