Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45. We lose 1 man every 2 minutes to suicide. It’s an absolutely shocking statistic.
On Monday 17th April 2023 we’re opening the doors of Andy’s Man Club in Mirfield where I live. We’ll be open from 7pm at Mirfield Library every Monday except bank holidays. I’m a veteran facilitator at the nearby Huddersfield club and I’m proud to be part of the team that’s going to help establish another club in the area.
My Andy’s Man Club (AMC) story began during the pandemic. As a single person with mental health issues occurring earlier in my life I was suddenly faced with a situation where I was alone, isolated and in danger of a serious relapse. Without the usual human contact we take for granted I was essentially facing the most serious global crisis since perhaps the Second World War all on my own. I attended the online sessions and found great comfort being able to say what was on my mind without fear of judgement. It got me through those turbulent days of uncertainty and isolation.
Just when I thought I’d cleared the exit of that situation I was faced with a series of events I could never have predicted would happen. On one particular April morning I received a text message from a woman who I was dating to say it was all over and she wasn’t interested in perusing a relationship. Considering things seemed to be going really well I was absolutely gutted. I did what I do best and went swimming that evening to try clear my head, let all that grief out in the pool then came back home and made myself a Shakshuka. Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse I received a call that same night from my best friend to deliver some disturbing news. A mutual friend of ours who’d unexplainedly lost contact with us had been convicted in court of some serious offences without us even knowing what had happened or why. Not only did I not understand what was going on I also didn’t actually know at the time what would happen to me and if I’d be caught in the fallout from it.
It was without a shadow of a doubt the worst day of my life so far.
The day after I had to take the afternoon off work because I was that distraught. I seriously had to consider that as a result of my so-called friend’s actions that my life would implode. I didn’t even have chance to grieve over a lost relationship. That’s when I realised that my attendance at Andy’s Man Club had to continue. Shortly after that day of infamy AMC gave the all clear to restart face to face sessions. I turned up at my first session and in all honesty I had to catapult myself through the front door I was that nervous.
Thankfully the facilitation team were absolutely fantastic. Two of the facilitators had a chat to me about the session format and rules, another facilitator made me a brew and I was in. I got my chance to open up to the group and surprisingly found another member who’d gone through a similar experience. Just having the space to open up gave me the chance to move on with my life and get back in control over what was going on in my head.
Fast track perhaps a year later things were on the up. The pandemic in the UK was under control and things were getting to the new normal. I got asked to be a facilitator. It’s been one of the biggest honours in my life and one that I least expected. I honestly thought I was in trouble somehow when the facilitator team asked me after the session to have chat!
That’s my AMC story and arguably the single biggest reason I’m not a statistic either for mental health reasons or for something far worse.
So, men of Mirfield (and even beyond) the invitation to you is to come visit, have a brew with us and get things off your chest. Attendance (and the brew) is always free and all sessions are run in the understanding of confidentiality and no judgement.