Coronavirus: Men's group goes online during lockdown

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Luke Newman onlineImage source, Luke Newman
Image caption,
The new online sessions are taking place every Wednesday night at 18:00 BST

A new group to help men struggling with anxiety and depression has moved online so they can carry on "chatting" through coronavirus lockdown.

For Men to Talk launched in January, and its monthly meetings at Jones' Cafe in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, were attracting up to 21 men each.

Founder Luke Newman, 39, said: "Sometimes men think they are the only people going through mental illness."

Coronavirus meant "every single person is going through anxiety", he added.

Mr Newman moved his sessions on to a video conferencing site when the country went into lockdown.

Image source, Luke Newman
Image caption,
Mr Newman said many new friendships were formed when he started his informal sessions

"At the moment I am doing weekly drop-in half hour sessions and I can see if everyone is doing OK," he said.

He said he wanted to help others, having 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.

The marketing and project coordinator said: "Focusing on what is important is key right now.

"It is vital we talk about what makes us smile, keeps us happy and active."

Image source, Luke Newman
Image caption,
Mr Newman started the group after the death of his mother Jen Newman and sister Heidi Melrose

Nick Rogers said attending the group "showed me that I am normal, I'm not alone and I can share my burden with lots of men in the same boat".

Stephen Buckley, head of information at charity Mind, said: "These self-help, or peer support groups, can be great for those who may not feel comfortable talking to professionals, or want to know they are not alone in their experiences.

"Mind's website has lots of useful information on how to plan for self-isolation and manage our mental health and wellbeing."

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