Today’s blog is an interview with Menfulness, a great local group for men that’s led by men who’ve struggled with their mental health and the pressures of life.
Thanks for joining us, first can you let us know what Menfulness is?
We’re an inclusive social group for those who identify as men and non binary people in York. We aim to bring people together to socialise, exercise and enjoy ourselves. But we also want to provide a safe non judgemental, friendly and supportive group for men to open up about the more complex parts of life. We have a range of online spaces, activities and counselling to help support mental and physical wellbeing.
Why did Menfulness come into being?
We started as a dad’s group but quickly noticed people attending needed to talk about their mental health and had friends who were struggling but weren’t parents themselves so Menfulness was born.
The disparity in the statistics for male suicide are a major reason we know Menfulness is needed: In the UK, men are three times more likely to die by suicide, yet only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men.
Men are also more likely to be made redundant, become homeless and nearly three times as likely to become addicted to alcohol and drugs.
As a result, we wanted to make space for conversations about mental health and create a group where men can be heard, understood and supported from where they are to where they want to be.
What sort of things do you get up to?
We have groups and events and our social media channels, all of which, we hope, help to raise awareness amongst men and boys that it’s ok to not be ok, and that it’s not weak to speak.
Activities include a monthly walk and talk, retro gaming night, boxing and circle group, as well as weekly football and running. As well as social media, we have some whatsapp groups so members can share virtually.
What have been some of your successes?
Well, it’s been a privilege to be a part of getting Menfulness up and running and gaining charity status last year. We’ve got at least 3000 people involved across our different online spaces as well as hundreds attending events every month.
We’ve won awards from BBC Radio York and YorkMix for our work in the community and we’ve received some incredible grants to further our aims, recently the Institute for Social Justice has funded York St John researchers to completely evaluate our charity and we’re so excited to find out exactly what and why Menfulness has been such a success.
We’re also really grateful to have the support of so many fellow charities like the Charlie Dallas Lancaster Foundation and the York Round table. We pride ourselves on being able to work with great businesses too and now have our own ‘Brew Chat’ coffee blend from Cloud Gate Coffee and alcohol free beer from Ainsty Ales!
Creating a network and watching men support men has shown us just how powerful creating these spaces is and the value to everyone involved. For example, Darren has shared his story about how Menfulness brings about real change in people’s lives and also how the group has been supporting his son as well.
Anything you’d like to say before we wrap up?
It is absolutely ok to struggle and we believe that articulating that struggle and reaching out for help can save lives. It also gives permission to those around you to articulate their struggle too. You are not alone and help is available.
Get in touch with us via Menfulness.org or through any of our social media channels.