A personal tragedy has led local mum and Time To Change Champion, Lisa Bourne to organise an important event focusing on Men’s Mental Health. Here she tells us more about the event and why open conversations and actions around mental health are so important, particularly for single dads.
“I lost my friend of 17 years to suicide in October 2017.” Lisa says. “He loved life, his family and friends. He loved music and bike rides and photography. I knew all those things. But I didn’t know that in the two months prior to his death he was in crisis.
I actually dreamt about him in a purple Willy Wonka suit and that’s when I realised that I hadn’t heard from him in a while! So I messaged him and although I saw the notification that he had read it, I didn’t get a reply. I thought he was busy with work because well, that’s just how life is sometimes!
I only found out after his memorial service just how much pain he was in and how ill he was. 3 out of 4 suicides in the UK are males, 12 men take their life every day in this country. It really is time we did something to change that.
What could we do to try and prevent this happening to others
Several of my friends came to me separately and said that they wanted to do something to help men experiencing mental health problems. I started a group message on social media to see what ideas we could come up with. It started with climbing instructor Cameron Nelson offering to do a climbing session and Lee Johnson Fitness offering to talk about positive habits around physical health leading to confidence and motivation, particularly with single dads. We decided we wanted to do an event that would combine practical ways to promote wellbeing and manage mental health, with a safe space to talk openly and share experiences of living with mental illness. We realised that whilst this should be aimed predominantly at men, we wanted it to be family friendly too. So that dads could come with partners or kids in a relaxed and friendly setting.”
What will be happening at the event
Lisa’s Mental Health Information free event will take place at the end of Mental Health Awareness Week, on the 20th of May, at Leeds City Museum. Men That Sing will open the event by performing at 11.10am and the first workshop starts at 11.30am. Entry to the event, workshop and museum is all free.
The workshops include a visit from former rugby league player Jimmy Gittins on behalf of State Of Mind Sport, and a practical session by Leeds Mindfulness on Mindfulness For Men (a full list of can be found here). There will be the opportunity for people to provide feedback about their experiences of Leeds mental health services through Healthwatch Leeds who are interested in hearing about experiences of local people (more info here)
This event on the 20th of May will serve as a launch event and so follow-up sessions will be listed on the website for people to participate in at a later date. Lisa felt it was important that this not be a one off event and that follow-up support be provided.
Stallholders will include charities offering support such as Leeds Survivor-Led Crisis, Rethink, Forward Leeds and Anxiety Leeds. Leeds Rhinos Foundation are also coming to discuss, amongst other things, nutrition and mood-boosting foods.
There will also be the chance to meet and talk to members of local activity/social groups that meet regularly to encourage participation and inclusion and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, including Men That Sing, Leeds HackSpace and Leeds Repair Café.
For children, facepainters, a balloon modeller and Creation Station North Leeds will be there providing entertainment all day. Cards or Die will also be bringing board games for people to participate in games in the café and there will be a tombola raising money for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
The family friendly Men’s Mental Health event is on the 20th May 2018, 11am – 4pm at Leeds City Museum, Millennium Square, LS2 8B. It’s free to all to attend and there is no need to book in advance. If you would like to donate a prize for the tombola or any other support towards the event, Lisa has a crowdfunding page here.