My name is Luke Newman and I am the founder and director of ‘For Men To Talk’. Today marks its two-year anniversary of its launch and although it seems to have gone by in a flash, so much has happened.
I have personally suffered for a number of years with grief and anxiety since losing my mother, aged 54, and sister, 44, both to cancer. However, I feel fortunate that I could admit my illness, as sadly a lot of men are not able to do so without the support that a group like ‘For Men To Talk’ provides.
Having already been through counselling and therapy, I recognised that there weren’t any groups for men to simply talk. This was a major driver in my founding the ‘For Men To Talk two years ago today, giving men who are suffering with anxiety, depression and grief the opportunity to talk with other fellow sufferers about their situation, provide support for each other and improve their well-being.
Throughout the last two years, with the help of coronavirus, we have been running a hybrid service, both physical and virtual meetings via zoom. In 2021, we have extended our meetings to not only Biggleswade, but also to St.Neots, which allows us to help even more men. In regards to the virtual meetings, men from the other side of the word have been able to join us. The wonders of technology will never cease to amaze me!
From the feedback from the attendees, the men seem to like that the meetings are informal, with no rules, no regulations, no hard questions to answer. The subject could be anything, feelings, worries or even about sport or television, but the comforting thing was that all the men in that physical or virtual room have one thing in common. They are going through troubles, but they want to talk.
It’s also been a chance for men who have finished counselling sessions to continue their journey. A few were saying that although their therapy had been completed and personal growth had been achieved, they wanted to continue talking. The ‘For Men To Talk’ group sessions allows that continuation.
We have been able to welcome experts to join the meetings. They have been able to present and suggest improvements and techniques on improving mental health. Experts have discussed grief, nutrition, exercise and also separation from a partner.
We have also discussed the importance of male cancer awareness and recognising the symptoms. A page is dedicated on the ‘For Men To Talk’ website with downloadable PDF files recognising the symptoms of testicular and prostate cancer. This is an important subject for me, as my father battled and won testicular cancer only thirty-five years ago.
This year has also seen us introduce ‘For Men To Talk… and Walk’, a monthly session which sees us men walk whilst we talk, rather that sitting down! This promotes the mental and physical health benefits of walking and talking.
Finally, this year has seen me achieve something that I have always wanted to do. I have designed, written and self-published a book titled ‘The Mental Health Moles’. Suitable for men, women, boys and girls of all ages. I wrote this book to raise awareness of mental health for men, about For Men To Talk and to raise much needed revenue for our early days of us as a company. I undertook a very successful crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the first print of the book, and they are now sold on Amazon Kindle and print, via market stalls and craft fayres.
I’m so proud of it. I’m loving hearing feedback to it. The idea of boys and girls reading it and it sparking meaningful conversations within the family around the subject of mental health is exactly what I wanted. The more discussions at a young age about how we are feeling, the better it will be for those youngsters growing up.
I have been approached to talk about the book at local schools, which I will hopefully be able to do in the near future. Especially when I receive messages like this;
“I teach at a coeducational special school and mental health is a real focus for students and staff. Thought you should know that The Mental Health Moles book is really making an impact in places that you wouldn’t have thought of!”
Over the last two years, we have received donations of over £3,500 to support For Men To Talk from charity events, construction companies and individual donations. I can’t thank them enough in believing in what we are trying to achieve.
I’d like to thank every single attendee to all 69 meetings that we had in 2021 and the many in 2020. All the men should be applauded for reaching out and talking about how they feel.
I would also like to that all the support from the public, for the kind words, for recommendations, for sharing social media posts, there is so many ways that you have helped.
To the men, women, boys and girls who have enjoyed ‘The Mental Health Moles’ Book. I hope you found comfort, solutions and understanding in what you are reading.
May I wish you all a safe and merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Here’s to a healthy and safe 2022.