Beds, Herts & Bucks

Depression and grief tackled at new Bedfordshire men's group

Heidi Melrose and Luke Newman Image copyright Luke Newman
Image caption Luke Newman with his sister Heidi Melrose, who died from cancer, aged 44

A group to get men talking about anxiety, depression and grief has been founded to show them there is "no shame" in sharing their feelings.

Luke Newman started For Men To Talk on Facebook to link "fellow sufferers".

The 39-year-old from Potton, Bedfordshire, has "struggled" with depression since losing his mother and sister to cancer.

Nineteen men attended the first meeting, talking about anything from "football, TV, to feelings", he said.

Image copyright Luke Newman
Image caption Mr Newman said he was a "happy person" but had "struggled" and was on anti-depressants to help him cope

Mr Newman said he created an "open door" group for men "to come together, to be with other men who are feeling the same".

The first session was informal with no expert on hand, just leaflets and contact numbers for professional groups, as he said he wanted the men to feel relaxed, without any added pressure.

"It went really well. The men who came told me 'This is what we needed'," he said.

"Many had already had counselling, which had stopped, and they were looking for somewhere, just for men, where they could informally talk about their mental health.

"Most said they would come back."

He said he first started suffering from depression after his mother Jen Newman died aged 54 in 2005.

It continued after his sister Heidi Melrose died aged 44 in 2015.

Image copyright Luke Newman
Image caption Mr Newman became depressed after the death of his mother, Jen

Mr Newman said: "I have struggled. I have always been able to open up, but I don't think society and men are very good at doing that; they're told to have a stiff upper lip."

The group aims to meet every second Wednesday of the month to allow men to "take their first steps to recovery".

Image copyright Luke Newman
Image caption Mr Newman said he wished there had been an "informal" group to join

Stephen Buckley, head of information at charity Mind, said: "Mental health problems affect one in eight men in any given year and many find it difficult to open up about what they're experiencing.

"Many men feel like support services aren't for them, or that seeking help might be seen as a sign of weakness."

Sharing experiences and speaking could "challenge stigma and help others to feel less alone," he added.

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