By ‘For Men To Talk’ founder and director, Luke Newman
As I write this, I’ve just returned home. Today, I took For Men To Talk & The Mental Health Moles to Broom in Bedfordshire, just outside Biggleswade. I attended Jordans Mill – Monthly Craft & Food Fayre.
For the odd time that it was quiet, it gave me time to think. On 22 March, we announced that ‘For Men To Talk’ had received financial funding from The Heads-Up community grant fund which is part of BLMK ICS NHS England Suicide Prevention Funding. From the BBC News article that was written, it has lead to a number of Facebook comments, every single one of them positive… except one.
The comment read “Look I think this group is great but getting NHS funding is too much. No wonder the NHS struggles for funds”. It hurt, it really did. Instead of taking all the other extremely nice, supportive and congratulatory messages and ignoring this one, I couldn’t. I kept thinking and re-thinking about it, over and over again.
I’ve worked extremely hard in building ‘For Men To Talk’ from an idea in December 2019, to the, hopeful, 101 meetings planned in 2022. All I’ve wanted to do is to give a platform for men to feel safe and comfortable to talk about how they are feeling. To have a feeling that they aren’t alone and scared. From the feedback I’ve received from the men who have attended any of the meetings, they don’t feel alone anymore and they do feel that they can be open to talk about their mental health illnesses. My objective is being fulfilled.
But this one comment, has left me confused. Why would this person have a negative view in ‘For Men To Talk’ receiving funding from the NHS? But, then a further comment answered my question. The family have had a bad experience with the NHS and felt that funding was lacking for what they needed. Were they angry with me or the system?
Like many things, I’m going to have to train my brain to move on. Think or see positivity to replace my negative thoughts. Instead of getting down about it, I need to re-read the amazing comments that I have seen and received from the many, many others. I need to become happy with them and use them as optimistic thoughts to replace my pessimistic ones. Practicing this over time, I’m hopeful that my mind will begin to focus on the good rather than this one bad.
I will re-read comments like
- “Considering suicide is the single biggest killer in men under 45. I would say it is money well spent.”
- “Spending £4198 will save the NHS money, less people needing to see their GP and less needing to access hospital services.”
- “This is such incredible work Luke, this will absolutely be capturing people before their mental health escalates to crisis. There just are not enough MH beds or staff to manage the current demand, the money you have been awarded is a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed to manage just one person in crisis and/or requiring a bed. This kind of work is exactly what is needed, proactive, supportive, collaborative.”
From a distance, the outside view is that I just host the physical, virtual and walking meetings. That’s around 20 hours a month. But in reality, I do so much more than that.
- Group Meeting Posters – For every single meeting I design a specific, individual poster. I also modify it to suit Instagram.
- Social Media Posts – I design three positive posts per week to inspire men.
- Social Media Scheduling – Plan and schedule all social media posts to post on specific days and times. I also share many of those posts to numerous Facebook Groups.
- Newsletter – Design and post a weekly newsletter that is distributed to those who have signed up to receive it.
- WhatsApp – Monitor the ‘For Men To Talk’ WhatsApp group. Look for signposts for men who need help.
- Website – Continue monitoring and update the ‘For Men To Talk’ website
- Blogs – I try and write a blog post every two weeks. Blogs with updated information about ‘For Men To Talk’ and mental health in general.
- Promotion – I’m always looking to promote the group, writing relevant press releases, attend networking meetings, radio interviews, podcasts etc. This also means having a stall at craft fairs and give presentations at organisations such as ‘Rotary Clubs’ and ‘Chamber of Commerces’
- The Mental Health Moles – I designed this book to raise funds for ‘For Men To Talk’, with that a lot of the above points go with it. The moles have their own social media channels where I continually promote the book and design three positive posts per week to inspire men.
I’m probably forgetting other aspects too!
I’m not trying to justify to you, the reader, on what I do. But this is what it takes to fulfil my objectives, to give men a safe and comfortable environment to be able to talk about how they are feeling. I dread to think about how many hours I put in every month, as well as doing my normal full-time job. Sometimes that means sacrificing time with family, especially my wife and children, and friends.
The Heads-Up community grant fund covers for some marketing and hosting the meetings in 2022. It doesn’t cover all the extra work it takes. But I am extremely grateful and proud for the NHS believing in me and ‘For Men To Talk’.
My profit is seeing the improvement in the mental health of the men who attend any of the group meetings. For all the extra work that I personally do, it’s worth extra single second, when I see just one negative comment, I must remember that.