Blokes and Black Dogs

Men and mental health. Most of you will already know that I can bang on about about the impacts on our inability as men to to communicate truly how we are and the reasons behind our lack of desire to appear vulnerable and so on for hours at a time. I make no apologies for this, because its bloody important! I also make no apologies for repeating statistics and facts. Some of these numbers are a stark reminder of the pain men can go through, and their occasional final and terminal response.

  • Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 in UK (and other countries)
  • The highest at risk group in UK in 2014 was age 45-59. (23.9 per 100,000)
  • 4630 men died by their own hand in 2014
  • In 2014, the male rate was 16.8 suicides per 100,000 people, versus 5.2 female deaths.Capture Suicide 1

Source is 2014 Samaritans report

So what is the answer? Much cleverer people than me have thought and worked on this in recent years, but ther is no silver bullet or panacea that will suddenly transform us! We are conditoned from a young age. ‘Big boy’s dont cry’ ‘Man up, mate’ ‘Stiff upper lip, old boy’ I could go on, and I am sure we all have examples, and I am sure we have all used these and similar expressions when referring to ‘over emotional male behaviour’! Again, you may have read on my blog and Facebook feed of the work of Luke Ambler and AndysManClub in the UK. Sterling work. Around 200 men meet in 15 groups every Monday night to talk and have a cuppa. So simple yet so effective.

Whats to stop us taking up a similar initiative? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Which is exactly why I am going to do so. English speaking men in the region of Lake Leman (Lake Geneva to us non-locals….) will soon have the opportunity to meet, and share how they feel. To talk, to listen to each other, to be vulnerable, to get stuff off their chests. To cry if they feel like it. Yes I said cry. Some may want to shout and curse. Thats ok too. Express emotion and feel the release and relief of having shared the issue (issues…) that are making us feel so crap!

Working name for the group – Blokes and Black Dogs. 

First meeting planned for 26th April at the moment, venue to be clarified. Publicity and detail will follow, Facebook and Twitter accounts will be set up. 

Bear with me, I will probably overcommunicate on this. Some of the communciation will be distinctly amateur to all you professionals out there. Sorry, not sorry!

So why do we talk about the black dog? Feel a bit sorry for the dogs to be honest, they are getting a bit of a bad rap, but I guess this is the expression that has entered every day usage! Black dogs visit so many of us, and can be debilitating and destructive in many different ways. Check out the YouTube clip below to get some sort of idea how the canine metaphor can manifest itself in our lives

There are a few important tips contained in this short film, that are definitely worth repeating. I know a video 4 minutes long seems an eternity in the sound bite culture that we currently inhabit, so here are just a few points that I picked out that can help put the black dog out into the garden!

  • Be open and authentic, to friends, to family, in a peer to peer suport group.
  • Exercise. Run, walk, lift weights, play touch rugby or 5 a side football.
  • Journal. Write down how you are feeling.
  • Be thankful for what you have in life.
  • Get medical help if required.

Lets try and create a culture of helping men.

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