In early 2017, I started attending a peer support group for men called Andy’s Man Club (AMC). The mission statement of this organisation is to address and tackle the distressingly high number of male suicides by encouraging men to come together and open up about their problems and talk with other, like-minded men. My involvement with AMC has developed over this past year to the point where I have facilitated at the Wakefield club before moving on to the newer Bradford club – which is local to me.
Facilitating these clubs requires me to exercise and promote confidentiality within the group; we use the Chatham House Rules, as well as ensuring and maintaining a non-judgemental atmosphere and attitude. The club is careful to stress that it does not attempt to diagnose, prescribe or imply any professional opinion on any of the service users. Our purpose is to listen and support all who attend in a positive and constructive way by both acknowledging and accepting the difficulties of the men as well as encouraging them to identify and keep sight of the positive elements of their lives, no matter how trivial they may seem. We often have men attend who are in crisis and we ensure that they are listened to with respect and with dignity; in such situations as much time as is needed is given to ensure they feel supported.
During my involvement with AMC, I have seen first-hand the incredible difference the club makes to peoples’ lives, not only those men who attend, but also for their families and friends who have seen dramatic differences in the outlook of those they are close to who have been dealing with mental health difficulties and the like. Indeed, coupled to our dedicated, social media members’ groups, I have seen incredible, positive changes to many of our club attendees; sometimes over a period of only a few weeks!
The work Andy’s Man Club has been so positive and the movement continues to grow further across the country with new clubs recently being opened in Leeds and Dundee! However, our work has only just begun and we look forward to further raising awareness and breaking the stigma of men’s mental health with our message of #ITSOKAYTOTALK.
Written by Alex Ripper: Co-Facilitator of Andy’s Man Club Bradford, meeting at the Millside Centre every Monday 7pm (Except bank holidays)