A mental health charity is encouraging men to get together and talk about mental health, demonstrating that there is no shame in being ‘Tough Enough to Care’.
The aim of Tough Enough to Care is for men of all ages to feel comfortable talking and opening up about their emotions to those close to them, instead of bottling them up until they reach breaking point. They also want men to be able to spot when others around them may be struggling and need support.
New Northfield support group
With an online peer-to-peer support group and regular meetings at Haden Cross Fire Station in Cradley Heath already established, the charity is launching a new twice-monthly meeting at Northfield Fire Station.
Opening up about mental health
Tough Enough to Care (TETC) is run by volunteers and was set up in 2019 by ex-RAF Armourer Stuart Bratt from Dudley.
Now working as an industrial engineer and a keen rugby player for 25 years, Stu has spent much of his adult life in predominantly male working environments.
He says he has seen first hand how men find it hard to open up about how their emotions and wanted to help men recognise that talking about how they are feeling doesn’t make you ‘less of a man’.
Challenging “man up” culture
Personal tragedy inspired Stuart to step up and try and make a positive difference. He said: “Following the suicides of two close friends within days of each other, with no warning signs, I decided something had to be done to kick the stigma surrounding mental health and to stamp out the “man up” culture.”
The charity aims its focus toward men in male dominated environments where the “man up” culture remains predominant – such as the Armed Forces, Emergency services, Construction industries and sports clubs.
Speaking of his own experience, Stuart said: “Being Ex-Military myself and now an engineer, I have seen first hand on a daily basis how men refuse to open up for fear of ridicule or being taken off frontline duties, this needs to stop.
“Our mission is for the subject of mental health to become as easy to talk about as the football results on a Saturday or how awful the weather is.”
Supporting all affected by male mental health issues
Alongside the support meetings, TETC offers help through a peer-to-peer support group on Facebook, as well as inspiration and information through a public Facebook page and Twitter account.
Stuart said: “We offer help and support to anyone, male or female, no matter what industry or background you may have. We also want to offer support and guidance to those indirectly affected by mental health issues. People who care for those who are struggling sometimes need support too, we are here for you.”
Moving forward, the charity hopes to train more facilitators and provide more meetings.
How to access support and advice from TETC
Men’s support groups:
- Northfield Fire Station: 2nd and 4th Monday of each month, 7-9pm (kettle will be on from 6.30pm!) @ South Road B31 2RB
- Haden Cross Fire Station: 1st and 3rd Monday of each month, 7-9pm @ Halesowen Road, Cradley Heath B64 7JU
- Public Facebook page
- Peer-to-peer support group on Facebook
- @ToughCare on Twitter
- @ToughEnoughToCare on Instagram
- Tough Enough to Care website