Samaritans launches campaign to tackle stigma around men seeking help

A stigma remains around men seeking help if they are struggling to cope, a charity said, as a new campaign encouraging people to speak out was launched.

Two in five men aged between 20 and 59 do not ask for help when they need it because they prefer to try to solve problems themselves, the Samaritans survey found.

Their campaign is supported by ex-footballer and boxer Leon McKenzie, who has spoken of his own past struggles in a “dark place”.

While more than three quarters of those surveyed said it is alright to admit when you are not feeling OK, a quarter of them felt their problems were not important enough to warrant calling a helpline.

The main problems causing men to struggle included debt or financial worries, relationship breakdown or family problems, loneliness or isolation and job loss or job-related problems, the charity said.

The Real People, Real Stories campaign, which is supported by National Rail, involves men who have overcome tough times sharing their stories to encourage those most at risk of suicide to get help.

Mr McKenzie said: “I know how tough it gets when you’re in that dark place. I’ve been there, not wanting to exist anymore.

“By sharing my story and supporting the campaign, I hope other men understand that you can climb back up with some help.

Leon McKenzie
Leon McKenzie is sharing his story (Doug Peters/PA)

“It’s so important to seek help early on and Samaritans are here to listen.”

Paul McDonald, from Samaritans, said: “We didn’t want to create just another awareness campaign.

“We wanted something authentic and emotive from men who have been through tough times, sharing their really powerful, positive and hopeful stories to encourage other men to seek help before they reach crisis point.”

More than 50 local events are due to take place in England, Wales and Scotland to help promote the campaign.

– Three thousand men aged 18 or over were surveyed online by Atomik Research this year. Of those, 2,040 were men aged between 20 and 59 from England, Scotland and Wales.

Anyone seeking help can call Samaritans 24/7 free on 116 123 or visit Samaritans.org.

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