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Fathers’ mental health matters too

Fathers are often not considered when it comes to post-natal support. Paternal mental health has not been researched as extensively as maternal mental health, and fathers are rarely provided enough support to manage the effects of parenthood on mental health.  

However, it’s proven that fathers’ mental health difficulties can cause negative effects on the father, the mother, and the children they raise. When men are provided with ample support, they are better equipped to support mothers with their mental health and be the best parent they can be for their child.  

For these reasons and more, International Fathers’ Mental Health Day (IFMHD takes place the day after Fathers’ Day. It was established to raise awareness about these issues and provide resources and information to support father’s mental health. This year, it falls on 21st June. 

Dr Andy Mayers, Principal Academic at Bournemouth University and our Patron, is one of the leading advocates for IFMHD and conducts research into perinatal mental health. As Dr Mayers highlights, supporting father’s mental health is “not about support for fathers instead of mothers; it’s as well as. If we help fathers, we help mothers. If we help them both, we also help their children.” (1)  

How many fathers are affected?

Research conducted in 2010, suggests that approximately 10% of fathers experience depression after their child is born or during the pregnancy. This concerning rate may increase if the mother is also experiencing mental health difficulties; fathers with depressed partners have a 24-50% chance of also becoming unwell. Importantly, postnatal depression in men often goes undiagnosed. 

What can contribute to paternal mental health difficulties?

Many factors can make a father more vulnerable to perinatal mental health difficulties. First time fathers and fathers younger than 25 are more likely to experience post-natal depression. Additionally, if the father has a history of mental health, financial, or substance issues, they may be at greater risk.  

Signs of paternal mental health difficulties

While it is normal to experience some emotional changes after becoming a parent, it is important to look out for signs that a father needs mental health support. These may include pervasive, distressing emotional changes, such as feelings of guilt, irritability, anger, sadness, stress, fear, confusion, and difficulties bonding with their baby. 

Additionally, they may experience cognitive effects such as pessimism, indecisiveness and difficulties concentrating. Behavioural changes such as isolating themselves, withdrawing from work and hobbies, arguing more, and increased alcohol, nicotine, or drug consumption may also indicate a mental health issue. Finally, a struggling father may experience physical symptoms, such as headaches, appetite change, weight change, insomnia, and stomach issues.  

Effects of paternal post-natal depression

Research suggests that post-natal depression in fathers can be detrimental to the wellbeing of both mother and baby. They may over-discipline and spend less quality time with their child if they are struggling with their mental health. This has been associated with developmental delay in the child, as well as behavioural and mental health issues. 

Where to find help:

It is important to get the right help as soon as possible if you are struggling with your mental health. Speak to your GP about your symptoms and they may be able to offer you treatments such as medication or talking therapies. Additionally, there is a wealth of online support and resources available. Visit Mind’s website to browse a range of online support or visit Dr Mayers’ website

If you experience a mental health crisis, don’t delay reaching out for support. Call 999 or The Samaritans FREE on 116 123. 

Our guest blogger:

Huge thanks to our Ambassador and Assistant psychologist Lucy for her timely blog. Lucy has also contributed a lovely film about how nature makes her feel which you can find on our Instagram feed.


Bipolar and me

TRIGGER WARNING: This blog mentions bipolar disorder and may be upsetting in nature. If you need to talk to someone after reading this article, please call the Samaritans FREE on 116 123, 24/7.

What is Bipolar?

Bipolar is a serious mental Health illness that affects your mood. It causes a person to experience manic or depressive episodes as well as some psychotic symptoms during these episodes. 

Bipolar is one of the UK’s most common long term conditions, with almost as many people living with Bipolar as cancer. It is estimated that 1.3 million people in the UK live with Bipolar, that’s 1 in 50 people. It’s also worth noting that 56% of people with Bipolar in the UK are undiagnosed, indicating it’s prevalence.  

World Bipolar Day takes place on 30th March every year. To mark it this year, we’ve a special blog from one of our own staff, Dan.

Dan’s experience…

I have Bipolar Affective Disorder and have struggled with it for 20 years.

I used to work full-time in a busy office and figured that I was happy enough with my life.

Since 2017, I had a number of stressful events in my life which triggered various manic and depressive episodes.

I’ve had problems with my mood since my early twenties, but I was not diagnosed until much later in life. 

Following one major depressive episode at the age of 26, I was prescribed antidepressants by a psychiatrist and entered a major manic episode. Unfortunately, despite my symptoms, this wasn’t picked up. Being untreated for bipolar, the episodes continued, cycling between mania and depression for many years. 

I think the main reason that I was not diagnosed was that I held down a successful, sometimes stressful job throughout and managed a relatively stable life from anyone looking in.  


As I got older, my manic and depressive episodes began to last longer and became more severe. I was still prescribed antidepressants but not diagnosed. 

My friends, colleagues and I began to suspect that my mood swings may be an indication of bipolar, but unfortunately a number of mental health professionals were dismissive of my views. 

During another major depressive episode, one particular psychiatrist listened to my history. He tentatively diagnosed me with bipolar affective disorder, type II. It was difficult as he had not seen me during a manic episode. This time, I was prescribed a mood stabiliser along with an antidepressant, which helped for a time. 

Various major life events precipitated a manic episode, always followed by many months of depression, and I just about managed. Still, the manic episodes in particular began to worsen over time. 

During my most severe manic episode, at the age of 39, I experienced many symptoms. My spending was out of control. I would talk to anybody and made many new friends. People couldn’t keep up with my speech – I would flit from one subject to another constantly. I conceived a number of business ideas which at the time were unrealistic. I would be so busy running around doing different things, I would have up to thirty calendar entries in my phone that I wanted to achieve that day. Clearly, I never did. I barely slept – one or two hours a night and long periods without any sleep – but I somehow remained functional.


I was finally sectioned under the Mental Health Act. 

Being detained in an acute psychiatric unit was the best experience in my life when it came to my mental health. I received medical intervention in the form of an antipsychotic and two mood stabilisers. All of the staff were brilliant and easy to talk to. The structured day helped an awful lot and I found it much easier to sleep. After some weeks the mania subsided and the racing thoughts in my head began to ease. 

Following my release, I still entered a depression but it became easier to manage with the right medication and regular visits to my psychiatrist. 

In the early part of 2021 I decided I wanted to try something new. Having an interest in mental health, I joined Dorset Mind as a volunteer for The GAP Project in Dorchester. Just being outside, connecting with nature and helping others has had an enormously beneficial impact on my mental wellbeing.

In September 2021, an opportunity arose to work for Dorset Mind as a Coordinator for the new GAP Project in Weymouth and I am very proud of the work we have done so far.

I can honestly say that since joining Dorset Mind I am enjoying the most stable, peaceful and happy period for most of my adult life.

This is a far cry from the office environment I once worked in and I would highly recommend the GAP Project for anyone who is struggling with their mental health for whatever reason and who wishes to improve their mental wellbeing. 

Our Guest Blogger

Huge thanks to Dan Bradshaw for sharing his incredible personal journey. and how working with The GAP Project and connecting with nature has helped him on his recovery journey. 

Help and Support

The GAP Project is Dorset Mind’s ecotherapy project, of which Dan is working on. Find out more about the benefits of Ecotherapy and how you can get involved here.

Bipolar UK is a national charity that specialises in supporting people with bipolar.


The importance of Independent Custody Visitors

As I write, I am honoured to have been nominated for an MBE by Her Majesty, for services to Mental Health Awareness and Support.

This Honour cannot be accepted, or spoken about, without thinking of Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) and my team at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Dorset.

As I said in my blog this week to the Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) – they have all stepped up to the plate, and more- protecting people’s rights and dignities, in incredibly difficult circumstances. I thank them all and the team at the Organisation I Chair, the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) Ashley, Sherry and Stacey.

In relation to my role as Police and Crime CC As the PCC for Dorset, leading nationally for Custody and Mental Health issues, I travelled a seven-year journey to improve outcomes for people detained by the police who were experiencing a mental health crisis for their own safety.

Many of you will know my two sayings – “If you break your arm, you should go to A&E, if you break your mind, you should go to mental health professionals“.

And my other saying – “People in mental health crisis deserve the right treatment at the right time, in the right place“. That place was never going to be a police cell.

Sadly, back in 2012/13, over 9,000 people in England and Wales ended up in custody suites, being visited by volunteers, instead of being in a health setting.

There were numerous reasons for this, and between us all, we changed things for the better. We worked together to tighten the Mental Health Act so that police cells are no longer deemed as an intuitive place of safety for people experiencing a mental health crisis.  This year, less than 200 people were taken to police stations for being in crisis, a massive drop that reflects a positive step-change in how the police treat those with poor mental health.

Throughout this journey our ICVs, lobbied me for change and encouraged me to take the matter to the Government. I must single out the Rt Hon Theresa May, as Home Secretary, for her enormous energy in this space, and I must thank all my PCC colleagues, who signed a letter to the Government in 2013 saying: “enough is enough”.

Locally and nationally, things have improved in other ways, with new Retreats, Community Hubs, and a 24 hr Crisis Line in Dorset, and nationally, a standard health approach to people now entering custody, where detainees are assessed for their physical and mental health on arrival.

There is much to be proud of, and I am humbled by this recognition, but I am also humbled by all of you, constantly out there, checking, questioning, and examining policing as they undertake essential custody work, as well as being a listening ear for detainees.

Let’s celebrate together, we journeyed together, and let’s hope this year sees a better, safer place for all of us.

Thanks for all that you do!


Reasons to be hopeful

The overwhelming emotion I felt as I reflected on the National Suicide Prevention Alliance’s (NSPA) conference in January was one of hope. 

Nobody working within suicide prevention believes enough is being done to save lives, but it was clear from speakers and delegates attending that the commitment to make a difference is as strong as ever. 

And, as we all grapple with the ongoing mental fatigue brought about by the pandemic, we should take heart from both the data and the incredible work going on across the nation. 

Looking at the latest data from the Office of National Statistics and Real-Time Surveillance (RTS), which tracks the number of suspected and attempted suicides, the numbers are flat. Thankfully, the pandemic has not led to a rise in deaths by suicide, according to official data. 

However, we must put a big health warning on the numbers. It is too early to measure the real impact of this terrible virus. We may yet face the perfect storm as government support is withdrawn, the cost-of-living soars and people’s mental health is severely tested. 

One of the reasons I feel hope is there is not even a hint of complacency from anyone involved in suicide prevention, either in the voluntary or statutory sectors. 

As project lead for the Dorset Community Mental Health Alliance, I witness every day the desire to help people live happier lives. For some, it is a lifelong struggle but never has there been more awareness of people’s needs or more tools to help them find a way through. 

We know many people face prejudice and services that do not always meet their needs – whether they’re from LBGT+ or ethnic minority communities, feel isolated, are neurodiverse, live with socioeconomic deprivation on the margins of society or face a combination of factors. 

And while it is vital, we’re never complacent about gaps in services, there has never been a time when both mental health professionals, and their 3rd sector colleagues have been more aware of the need to do better. 

So, what can we do in practical terms to make a difference? 

With the support of our Public Health colleagues, we have been able to offer 15 voluntary organisations, which felt they needed better skills, free suicide prevention training. In March we will roll out more courses. 

We also want to help members develop suicide prevention strategies for their organisations.  

In 2022, we will be working with Ann Luce, Associate Professor in Journalism and Communication at Bournemouth University, who lost her partner Richard to suicide 16 years ago. She has dedicated the intervening years to a tireless pursuit of answers and solutions. 

Ann helped Dorset’s three universities produce a life-saving SP strategy, which not only recognises the unique set of challenges that young people face leaving home for the first time, but also gives staff and students clear guidance and support if a young person takes their own life on campus. 

We will support Dorset’s Multi-Agency Suicide Prevention Network colleagues as they look to identify emerging trends from the RTS data, while recognising it is the tip of the iceberg because it only records incidents reported to Dorset Police and British Transport Police. 

We will play our part in the NHS reforms with representation on both the Mental Health Integrated Strategic Programme Board and the Delivery Board, which will determine the county’s provision of mental health services. 

Many of our members are part of the Mental Health Integrated Community Care (MHICC) Project, which recognises that primary and community mental health services need large scale transformation to meet everyone’s needs. 

One death from suicide is one too many and so encouraged by the amazing work of the NSPA we must all reaffirm our commitment to create a society where nobody feels taking their own life is their only option. 

The alliance isn’t a crisis service 

If you or someone else is at serious risk of death or injury, call 999 and ask for the police and/or an ambulance 

For 24/7 emotional support, speak to The Samaritans FREE on 116 123 or visit,  

Connection is a 24/7 FREE helpline for Dorset residents or visitors of all ages. Call 0800 652 0190 or NHS 111 and select mental health, or visit,  


For more about NSPA, visit  

For more about Dorset Mind, visit  

For more about the MHICC, visit   

To join the DCMHA, visit 



Suicide Prevention  

One of the founding principles of the Dorset Community Mental Health Alliance (DCMHA) is to tackle the tragic rate of suicide in Dorset. Every suicide in our community is a tragedy – for the life that is lost, for the family, friends and loved ones and for the ripple effect that each has on our society. 

All 38 organisations that belong to the DCMHA are dedicated to doing everything in their power to make a difference and to bring that number down. 

What are we doing to help? 

Firstly, we have made sure that everyone knows where to signpost someone in crisis, or who says they are having suicidal thoughts. If someone comes to any of us with a life-or-death crisis the right course of action is to call 999 or signpost them to The Samaritans or NHS Connection – a 24/7 FREE helpline. 

But we don’t want our responsibility to end there. 

  • The DCMHA has made suicide prevention training a key target this autumn. We’re taking part in a pilot project being run by our partners at Public Health Dorset (PHD) and we hope to roll out that training to as many members as possible between now and Christmas. Every member has already received a link for online training from Public Health England and Zero Suicide Alliance. 
  • We are learning lessons from the life-saving Real-Time Surveillance work that is being done by Public Health Dorset. This is helping our conversations about how we can come together to prevent more suicides with data that is current and relevant (the data we were working on last year was more than two years old). 
  • We are talking to the inspirational Alice Hendy, who set up R;pple Suicide Prevention in the wake of her brother Josh’s suicide late last year. R;pple is an online monitoring tool designed to flash a message of hope and support to anyone who searches harmful keywords or phrases on the PC. It takes a few minutes to get any PC protected. For more details, visit R;pple Suicide Prevention 
  • We are developing a blueprint for a Suicide Prevention Strategy, with the help of Bournemouth University and Dorset Healthcare NHS Trust, which will help members to ensure they have a framework in place, both for staff and volunteers, to prevent suicide from within their own organisations and for their service users, clients and participants. 
  • We are looking at ways for our members to help colleagues within the CCG and Public Health find solutions for people who repeatedly present to emergency services because they have attempted to take their own lives. This is a complex and ongoing project potentially involving a lot of different organisations from the NHS, Local Authorities, Police, GPs and the Voluntary Sector.  

It’s worth saying that every tragic life lost costs the country around £1.5M, so although the human cost is more important, there is a financial cost too.

Our other work 

Health Inequality Mental health inequalities are deeply rooted in our Society. We are supporting Community Action Network (CAN), Dorset Community Action (DCA) and Dorset Race Equality Council (DREC) with a Health Equality Partnership Project. The project has been commissioned by PHD and the NHS’s Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), to gather community insights and identify any areas of hidden health inequality that people with enduring mental health, learning disabilities and ethnic minority groups face. 

We’re sure our members can provide insight and help the project to engage with people with lived experience and find out the barriers they are facing when using preventative health services, including mental health. 

NHS Reforms We’ve also been discussing how best we can work with the new Integrated Care System’s Mental Health Programme Board (MHPB), which comes into force in April next year as part of a raft of NHS Reforms. We will work with the MHPB to ensure the provision of mental health services in the county meets everyone’s needs. 

Community Mental Health Transformation Members are also keen to support the work of the Mental Health Integrated Community Care Project (MHICC). This project recognises that primary and community mental health services can’t always meet everyone’s needs and so large scale ‘transformation’ of these services is necessary. So we have been discussing how the Voluntary Sector, and in particular our members, can contribute to the success of this ambitious programme of work. For more details go to  

If you want to join us, please contact Nick Rowe at or fill out the form  on this site. 

Dorset Community Mental Health Alliance – Working together for Dorset’s wellbeing. 




At Relate Dorset and South Wiltshire, we are here to help. 

Whether you are having problems with a relationship or you’d just like to understand your partner/family/friends better, talking things through with one of our counsellors can make a real difference. 

The counselling we offer is for everyone.  Whether you’re married, single, young, old, living together or apart, straight or gay, we can help you strengthen your relationships and help with other issues such as anxiety or depression.  Counselling offers a caring, confidential and supportive environment in which you can examine problems and think about ways to address them.  

The first step is to arrange an initial appointment to discuss what the issues are that you need help with.  This gives you the chance to see if counselling is for you and us the chance to make sure we are the best people to help you.   

From there, if everyone agrees, ongoing appointments can be arranged with either the same counsellor or a new one who will be briefed on what was discussed at the initial appointment.  Once you start ongoing appointments with a counsellor, you will stay with that counsellor.  There is no set number of appointments you must have – that is up to you and your counsellor to agree as you go along – but six-eight sessions are common. 

Appointments last between 45 – 50 minutes and can take place either face-to-face, via webcam, or over the phone, depending on your circumstances and what works best for you.   

Our counsellors offer appointments on a range of days and times, so hopefully, there will be something that works for you.  

Our friendly team of administrators are the contact point outside of appointments and will take you through the process described above and book all the appointments, talking through availability and costs with you. 

For more information about Relate Dorset and South Wiltshire, visit  



Wendy Thompson is Senior Practitioner at BCHA’s new Community Front Room (CFR) in Weymouth. In her blog, Wendy shares her passion for supporting people with their mental health issues and the positive strategies she uses.  

Community Front Rooms are a new service, which form part of Dorset HealthCare’s Access Mental Health initiative, which provides drop-in support to anyone over the age of 18 requiring support with their mental health. CFRs are open Thursday to Sunday, from 3.15 pm – 10.45 pm.  

“My role involves engaging with the customers who attend our sessions, as well as working closely with other agencies in the community, working together to help deliver the message that help is available and no referral is required – people can call us or just drop in (from Thursday 17 June 2021). 

“We have a team of peer specialists and mental health recovery workers, who are all kind and compassionate people, willing to go the extra mile to support people.  

“We recognise that while mental health illness can be complex, we are committed to normalising it in the same way that our physical health is regarded. We need to acknowledge and recognise that at times we may all require support and there is no shame in that.  

“Sometimes it can be difficult talking to those closest to us as we feel we are burdening them, so talking to someone neutral really helps. We are able to give people a safe space to visit and talk or just be in the company of others to engage in activities that can offer distraction and connection. 

“My favourite part of this role is having the autonomy to be creative in the delivery of the service and being able to make a difference in the lives of others.  

“Fundamentally, I can be myself and draw upon my own previous work and life experience to make a difference in my own local community.  

“I started my working life over 20 years ago as a very anxious single mum. But by being given the opportunity to volunteer at a local drug and alcohol agency I was able build my confidence and gain employment as a Substance Misuse Recovery worker and to work within the community and the criminal justice system.  

“More recently I moved over to working within mental health. If someone had told me years ago that I would be doing what I’m doing now I honestly would never have believed them. What I love about my job, is that now I can support people in the same way I was supported and share with people strategies that can support their wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem. 

“I have contact every day with customers and other agencies. Throughout the pandemic, we made use of virtual support through the attend anywhere provision.  

“COVID has been hard for us all in different ways, leaving us with feelings of isolation, as well as with financial issues, while juggling home working and childcare. We’ve had to work through relationship breakdowns and bereavement, so having the opportunity to talk is so valuable as otherwise we can just be left with our own thoughts, which can be a very lonely place to be.  

“Through a genuine desire to help, as well as the ability to listen with kindness and friendliness, I can help people see things from a different perspective and find a way forward. This may include referral to connect with activities within the local community and/or referral to more specialised support. 

“What excites me most about my job is connecting with a vast array of people in the community. I give people hope when they or their loved ones are struggling.  

“I am passionate about breaking down the stigma and shame surrounding mental health issues and helping people to understand that we all have mental health worries.  

“I hope to be able to promote a better understanding of what the symptoms are that people are struggling with and to ensure that they have a safe place to visit, whether it’s to request support for their own wellbeing or to seek advice about how to support a colleague, loved one or friend.” 

Further information about the Community Front Rooms is available on the Dorset HealthCare Access Mental Health website:  



It has been great to be part of the Dorset Disability Equality Forum, and work alongside like-minded people who are committed to improving experiences for local people with disabilities, and those visiting the area.  

It’s really important to have opportunities to collaborate and develop solutions, as everyone has something to contribute – this has been very clear with the work alongside Dorset Council’s updated taxi policy, where both physical health and mental health considerations were identified. 

We’ve been working with the Forum to better support our patients, staff and local communities, inviting some of our staff networks and patient groups to information sessions to learn more about the Forum’s purpose and ambitions.  

With many links throughout the county and beyond, working with the Dorset Disability Equality Forum allows us to meet local people who may access our services, and empower our colleagues who can constructively contribute to the important topics discussed. 

Harry Coburn,   

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Practitioner, Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust 



How walking changed my life

18 months ago, I was hospitalised with a respiratory illness. This alongside a barrage of other issues at that point in time, lead to me suffering with symptoms of poor mental health. Stress, exhaustion, low mood and thoughts of hopelessness and worthlessness impacted work, social life, home and every part of my existence. I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder, clinical depression and PTSD. Although I was prescribed medication and treatment nothing seemed to help.

The first lock down and the fear of catching Covid was a wake-up call, and I realised something had to change.

Something had to change

I had never been a particularly active person or even an outdoors person, but I started going for short daily walks. Initially at first to try and build back up my physical wellbeing, as the respiratory illness had left me feeling weak and fatigued. 

I decided to participate in the 2.6 Challenge in April, walking 26 miles in seven days. I investigated local nature spots within one hour walking distance of my home. 

With stunning sun rises, ducklings, baby lambs and the blossoming of flowers it felt like I was experiencing the beauty of spring for the first time. Even the wind and rain felt more refreshing. I found myself looking forward to daily walks and the sights I would see. 

The benefits of being outside and exercising really was helping to improve my mental wellbeing. After all it is very hard to feel sad when you are watching three fluffy baby geese with their Mum and Dad waddling around Poole Park. 

Over time I have challenged myself to walk longer distances and explore parks and nature reserves further afield. 

The benefits of switching off and walking

Being outside away from technology and the stresses of life has become a purpose, the more time I spend walking in nature the more I am able to switch off and the better I feel. This has become a definite positive for helping to manage the challenges and boundaries of working from home. 

I have also discovered that thinking about worries felt easier while I was walking. What may seem like the biggest catastrophe at home/work compared to the enormity of nature and the beauty outside somehow didn’t feel as significant. This has helped me re-frame my thoughts. I would often start a walk feeling very tense and sometimes crying my eyes out, but by the end I would feel calmer and more able to process stress and face problems. 

Interestingly, walking has also become a gauge as to where my mental health is at. I know that if I am struggling to leave the house to walk, or if I walk and I don’t feel better at the end of it, that this is a sign that my mental health has dipped. This may mean I am just tired and need to rest. But it could also be that I need to reach out for professional support. 

Having a goal helps 

Taking part in Dorset Mind challenges has helped me connect with others and share the joy of walking in nature. Through the winter Step-up Challenge, I participated with my son. He was living and walking in London, and I was walking in Dorset. Every day throughout the challenge we would share photos and experiences of walking with each other. This helped us to feel more connected too, even though we couldn’t be together. 

I know that initially I was dubious when people said going for a walk can improve your mental health. But if you are struggling, I highly recommend giving it a try. 

The power of walking in nature really has improved my mental health and changed my life. 

Special thanks to…

This article was written by our anonymous blogger – you know who you are, thank you. 

For Mental Health Awareness Week this year, the theme has been nature. We’ve been asking staff, volunteers and our friends to write blogs and share how nature has impacted them. 

Light on: IG post

New campaign shines a light on mental health to tackle stigma and change the way men talk

A life-changing campaign – Light On – is launching across Dorset to tackle the stigma of talking about mental distress and emotional struggle, particularly among men.

A network of organisations including local businesses, the NHS, Public Health Dorset and Bournemouth University, have joined forces to build mental wellbeing together and put an end to men dealing with mental health difficulties alone and in the dark.

It urges men to go beyond the banter and talk openly about how they are feeling and whether they are coping.

The campaign aims to train champions and ambassadors to spread the message across the whole of Dorset reaching men where they work, exercise, socialise and live.

Businesses, individuals, charities and sports clubs will be encouraged to join the campaign as it gains momentum to share the message to ‘turn your light on’ and give permission to someone to have a conversation about mental health challenges.

Andrew Coleman, Founder of Light On, said: “It is time to put an end to the silent struggle among men because of the taboo and stigma about talking when you’re not coping very well.

“This silence is leading to pain, suffering and suicide – and it has to stop.

“This campaign will save people’s lives because it will make it OK for people to have a conversation and ask for help.

“It will transform the way Dorset people, men in particular, deal with mental health and mental health difficulty.

“We want as many people as possible to share our message and to get involved.

“We must create such a loud voice between us that everyone knows how to have a conversation about seeking and receiving help.

“We want thousands of people to ‘turn their Light On’ with us.”

Andrew is one of a group of men who met through the charity Dorset Mind and wanted to do more to help other men who may be struggling.

All have personal experience of the difficulties and damage caused by mental health problems, with many of them losing friends or colleagues to suicide.

Ty Temel, Owner of Halo Bournemouth, pictured left, said: “A year ago we started talking about how we could stop this wave of distress amongst men in Dorset that is leading some to take their own lives.

“It’s great that this campaign is coming to fruition – as the start of a larger piece of work.

“There are so many of us who have lain awake at 3am wondering how much longer we can cope and not knowing where to turn.

“We wanted to create a campaign that showed people that it’s OK to talk, it’s OK to say you’re not coping well and it’s OK to get help.

“If people show that they have their ‘Light On’ then others will know that they’re someone to talk to, who will listen.

“That, in turn, will shine a light on this issue and bring it out of the shadows.”

Also leading the campaign is Craig Mathie, pictured right, Managing Director of Bournemouth 7s Festival, and – as is Ty – an Ambassador for Dorset Mind.

The Light On campaign was built using research from panels of men across Dorset who came together to share how they felt about talking about mental health.

They helped to shape the campaign’s focus on making sure that men knew how to talk as well as when to talk.

As a result, local businesses, clubs, charities and individuals will be offered training and workshops to train people in the basics of mental wellbeing in later phases of the campaign.

Importantly, they will be encouraged to have courageous conversations that go beyond everyday banter.

Marianne Storey, CEO at Dorset Mind, pictured left, said: “This is such a vital campaign for people in Dorset, particularly at this time as we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Even more people than ever are struggling with mental distress and it is essential that we create a county that is open and compassionate about talking about it.

“I believe that Light On is going to save lives.

“If enough people get involved and turn their ‘Lights On’ then more people can come forward and ask for help.

“And if we all play our own vital role in this campaign then we can all contribute to preventing distress and ultimately suicide.

“We must not give up until everyone has the help they need.”

Dee Swinton, Dorset Mind’s Income Generation and Marketing Manager, pictured right, said: “The Light On initiative has been launched as a response to a growing awareness of mental health issues, especially among men.

“A survey by Mind charity found that one in eight men in the UK admit to suffering from mental health problems, while suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 45.

“At Dorset Mind we are determined to tackle these statistics alongside our partners and change the situation for men in Dorset.”

A survey is also being carried out in conjunction with Bournemouth University to find out what a greater number of men in Dorset feel about their mental health – and what might be stopping them seeking help.

The findings will be used to help the Light On team further develop their campaign.

It’s set to run for five years across Dorset and is expected to reach hundreds of thousands of people.

Already 24 businesses and organisations, including Osprey, AFC Bournemouth and both BCP and Dorset councils, are partners and organisers are expecting many more to sign up online as word spreads across communities and workplaces.

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