New Samaritans campaign, Real People, Real Stories, encourages men to seek help
There is still a stigma around men seeking help when they are struggling to cope. So much so that 41% of men surveyed in England, Scotland and Wales aged 20-59 said they do not seek help when they need it because they would rather solve their own problems and don’t want to feel like a burden, according to the new research from Samaritans.
The Real People, Real Stories campaign, supported by National Rail, features men who have overcome tough times sharing their stories. One of the men featured in the campaign is 38-year-old Tony Robertson. Tony suffered from undiagnosed depression for most of his life and attempted to take his own life when he lost his job, home and partner.
“I’ve suffered from depression from a young age, so there have been times when I have found life tough. My close friend took his own life when he was 31 in 2013 and I’ve lost several other friends to suicide too. Having had suicide attempts myself in the past, I now actively campaign for more of focus on the importance of human connection.
“In 2016 I lost my job and my home in the space of a couple of months. I had been struggling with depression for years, but these events lead me to feeling like suicide was the only option.
“For months I didn't think I would get through it. I had support from the crisis team in my local area, as well as from my family. The biggest source of support at the time was from my girlfriend who was amazingly supportive, and basically kept watch over me day and night. I attempted to take my own life twice over one weekend in late 2016 and after the second failed attempt, something changed in my mind and I didn't want to die that way anymore.
“I started talking and opening up about everything, and over time my outlook on everything started switching to be more positive. I started walking and exercising more, drinking less and I became more comfortable in my own skin - basically grateful to be alive.”
Tony said that he hopes by sharing his story it will encourage other men to speak up and seek help before getting to the stage that he got to. “I was in my hospital bed the morning after and I saw my mum sat there upset, and something clicked. I started talking to my mum about how I was feeling. I think having that human connection really does bring that home. Talking really can save lives,” he said.
The Samaritans research found that some of the main reasons why these men find life tough and struggle include debt or financial worries (36%), relationship breakdown or family problems (30%), loneliness or isolation (29%) and job loss or job-related problems (25%).
Darran Latham, 38, shares his experience ringing the Samaritans, “It was pretty difficult the first time I rang Samaritans. I was homeless by that point and I’d been put in some emergency shelter. I was drinking quite heavily. I’d had suicide attempts in the past, but it was usually when I was drunk. One morning I woke up and I didn’t have that to hide behind. I didn’t want to not be there. That’s when I reached out and called Samaritans. And I’m really glad I did.”
"For me, talking to someone feels like a sense of achievement. I get a rush of emotion when someone listens. You don’t have to face it alone, you can get there, just speak to someone."
Darran has now been a listening volunteer with the Samaritans for three years and is sharing his story to support the campaign to encourage other men to seek help by calling Samaritans free 24/7 on 116 123.
Anyone can contact Samaritans for free in confidence any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit, and the number won’t show up on your phone bill. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch where you can talk to one of their trained volunteers face to face.
Paul McDonald, Executive Director of External Affairs at 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.”
“Our survey results found that although 78% of men aged 20-59 say it’s okay to admit you’re not feeling okay, many still avoid speaking out when they’re finding life tough. A quarter felt their problems weren’t important enough to warrant calling a helpline, which is one of the reasons this awareness campaign is so important.”
For more information visit the Real People, Real Stories page, where you will find real stories from real men who have been through tough times. You can also support by following the campaign on social media using the hashtag #RealPeopleRealStories