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“Putting yourself in someone elses shoes can be a real help” The mental health charity encouraging people to talk

Talk About it Mate has seen hundreds of people meet up to talk about their mental health in Salford since it was established six years ago.
Talk About it Mate

Talk About It Mate is a social enterprise offering a creative approach with support to those struggling with their mental health, particularly before it reaches a critical point.

With mental health services stretched under the current government, services like Talk About It Mate have never been more important.

Anxiety, stress and depression are three of the UK’s most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders among younger generations.

But that’s not the whole story; people of all ages are suffering from increased mental health problems, although they seem far less likely to talk about them.

Worrying still is the rise of reported cases where our well-being is affecting our ability to work.

Talk About It Mate is hoping to help people to open up about their mental health before it gets to a crisis point.

Talk About it Mate

Talk About it Mate
The team

Mike Richard, who became a counsellor off the back of his experiences with poor mental health, said that the reason he set this initiative up was from his own experience of ‘going through mental health system’.

Following a mental breakdown, it took until a crisis point for Mike to address the issues he was going through.

“I didn’t know how to talk about what I was experiencing

“I went through a lot of mental health challenges myself from the age of about 18 right through my 20s and had a meltdown basically, like a mental breakdown in my late 20s.

“It was an awful time for me, and I truly felt like I had nowhere to turn.

“Speaking about mental health still felt like such a taboo back then.”

It was out of going through this experience that he thought, well I can’t find what I am looking for, so I’m going to create it myself.

And it has been a huge success.

Early mental health help before crisis point

Talk About It Mate
One of the groups at Talk About it Mate

With the current mental health services in the UK looking bleak, Talk About It Mate acts as an early intervention for those who need a mental health boost.

With services such as workshops and training for businesses, walks, men’s groups, women’s groups and much more, Talk About It Mate exists to creatively tackle mental health problems.

Mike said: “We’ve done a variety of things over the years, but now our core offer is to provide men’s groups in the community.

“So we work quite in Salford quite a lot.

“We have three groups in the week in Salford, and we specialise in doing groups in the daytime because there are people who we found very lonely and isolated and didn’t have much to do in the daytime, maybe they aren’t working or can’t work for various reasons.”

And the groups have been a huge success, with over thirty people attending the classes and getting the help they need before things deteriorate.

The groups offer a safe space where people can come in, chat an connect in a friendly space.

Everyone is non-judgemental, going through things that you and I could have been through.

The knowledge that others are experiencing something similar, can be a huge source of relief.

“When I was starting out on my journey to get help, it was very isolating and I felt like I was the only one experiencing it.

“When I found out that obviously, that wasn’t true, it connected me with a lot of people.

“When you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and the group can experience what you’re experiencing, it’s a huge help. Getting things off your chest and connecting with other people can be an incredible thing.”

Mike has seen huge changes in people using the service, and they are receiving more and more referrals from GP’s as the positive effects of sharing your story become obvious.

“We’ve seen hundreds of men come through the groups, and some of them now volunteer, they want to give back.

“There are a few service users who have gone on really big personal journeys, growing in confidence quite significantly, and I think if we’re talking about grassroots support, they’re the ones who have a say in what we do and how we do it.

“It helps people find their purpose and grow.”

Mike said that he thinks the stigma around males talking about their mental health is still there, but things are improving.

“There’s a lot of good support in the community, and there’s a lot of people, and it’s so much more in the media nowadays as well. The amount of new guys who are coming and young guys who access therapy and friend groups are encouraging, and they’re all sharing their experiences and helping each other through their journeys,” he added.

Mike said that the number of younger people seeking help, and not embracing the traditional ideas of toxic masculinity, talking about their feelings was a huge help.

“I think it’s still there in terms of this idea of what a man should be, but I think it is changing, and I think the younger generation is more clued up.

“There are still issues around it, but I think it’s this idea of making a kind of healthy masculinity because there are loads of good parts of masculinity.

“I think if the focus is on men and boys’ mental health and it becomes a more open conversation, it’s more normalised in society, then it’s that can only be a good thing.

“And I think as a service provider, we’ve seen that over the last couple of years.”

The team at Talk About it Mate are encouraging anyone who feels like they can benefit from the service to get involved, and to help them ‘find their tribe’.

Talk about it Mate offer three men’s groups each week in Salford, all our groups are free to attend and refreshments are provided.

– Langworthy Men’s Group @ Langworthy Cornerstone: Mondays 1:00pm-3:00pm

– Walkden Men’s Group @ START: The Make Space: Tuesdays 1:00pm-3:00pm

– Eccles Men’s Group @ Eccles Gateway: Fridays 1:00pm-3:00pm

You can follow Talk About It Mate on X by clicking here or check out their website by clicking here

There are loads of amazing small charities from Manchester that need your help – check out our link to find out more.

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