MEN are being encouraged to talk to their friends about their feelings, as part of a campaign that aims to tackle the high levels of male suicide across Leicester and Leicestershire.
A total of 455 deaths by suicide in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland were recorded between January 2015 and June 2021. More than 75% of those deaths – 353 – were men.
The ‘Get the Ball Rolling’ campaign has been devised by the city, county and Rutland councils’ Start a Conversation partnership, and follows a report on male suicide published this year by Healthwatch Leicester and Leicestershire.
It uses sporting references on beer mats, posters and on social media to show men how they can start a conversation with others, and where they can get help if they are struggling with their mental health.
Local brewery Everards is backing the campaign by placing the beer mats and posters in its pubs across the city, county and Rutland.
It’s also got the support of the United Leicester mental health hub, an online platform where members of the local sporting community share their own stories with the aim of helping others to talk and get the support they need.
United Leicester is a partnership of the city’s four professional sports clubs and funded by their respective official charities.
Cllr Vi Dempster, asst city mayor for public health in Leicester said: “We know that many men will feel more comfortable talking about sport than about their feelings, so we’re giving simple tips on ways to begin a conversation that might make all the difference to someone who is struggling.”
Councillor Louise Richardson, county council cabinet lead member for public health, said: “It is so important to encourage more open and honest conversations about suicide and mental health, particularly in men. To have so many parts of the community, like United Leicester and Everards, come together to support Start A Conversation is brilliant.”
Erika Hardy, head of marketing at Everards said: “This is a really positive initiative that we are proud to support. We recognise that the local pub is a great place for conversations and therefore a perfect place to share these important messages.”
Steve Walsh, former LCFC defender and United Leicester spokesman said: “Get The Ball Rolling is an important campaign. It is well known that men generally do not discuss their feelings. If men spoke up about how they felt, it would go a long way to helping their mental wellbeing, so it’s great to see a campaign aimed at breaking that stigma.”
Mark Farmer, Healthwatch Leicester and Healthwatch Leicestershire Advisory Board Lead for Mental Health said: “Our report on male suicide in Leicester and Leicestershire resulted in this campaign being created and is part of a response to our call for more to be done to reduce high levels of male suicide. We are delighted to support this new and innovative campaign to get men talking through sports about their mental health and would encourage men to take part."
More about the campaign, advice on how to start a conversation about mental health and information on services on offer in Leicester is available at www.unitedleicester.com or www.startaconversation.co.uk/
Photo caption, left to right: Pictured in The Beer Hall, Everards Meadows, Enderby: Councillor Louise Richardson, Leicestershire County Council; Steve Walsh, United Leicester;Jackie Owen, Projects Officer Healthwatch Leicester and Healthwatch Leicestershire; Erika Hardy, Head of Marketing, Everards; Asst City Mayor Cllr Vi Dempster, Leicester City Council; Mark Wheatley, Leicester City Council public health; Cara Squires, Leicestershire County Council public health; Matt Bray Health and Wellbeing Manager, Leicester city in the Community;Sam Swift, Leicester Tigers Foundation Manager.