In the News – Big boys in Gloucestershire should cry for help with mental health

Men across the county are being encouraged to break free of the ‘cave man’ stereotype and speak more openly about their mental health

Far fewer men than women seek help and advice from Let’s Talk – the psychological therapy service provided by 2gether NHS Foundation Trust.

Yet men are four times more likely than women to end their own lives and many of those who commit suicide have never sought help or been referred to mental health services.

But a new initiative is being launched in Churchdown aimed at supporting men who have lost loved ones to suicide.

The conference entitled Big Boys Don’t Cry: Men and Mental Health is being jointly organised and hosted by the Gloucester branch of Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide and 2gether NHS Foundation Trust.

The new Engaging Men project has been devised, researched and developed by Steve Carter, a member of Gloucester SOBS who lost his own son to suicide in 2011.

“I became aware that our local SOBS meetings were being attended by more females than men, but men are more reluctant to attend the traditional format of meeting in which users sit in a circle and talk about their experiences and emotions,” said Steve.

“I undertook a small research project into all 48 SOBS groups nationally and discovered that everyone who responded reported the same higher attendance rate by women.

“The isolation and loneliness of the typical ‘cave man’ mentality, as well as a degree of male social stereotyping, which expects males to be ‘strong’ for others, may be contributory reasons that males bereaved by suicide are also themselves at heightened risk of taking their own lives.”

He said it was because of this that he pressed the need for additional services and activities in a bid to draw men out of their ‘caves’ and speak openly about their issues. He then launched the SOBS Engaging Men programme.

The most recently available suicide data for Gloucestershire, between 2009 and 2012, shows that 80 per cent of people who ended their own lives in the county were men.

Of those who died by suicide, about two-thirds had no contact with mental health services in the 12 months preceding their death.

“The number of men who die by suicide both locally and nationally is a huge cause for concern,” said Dr Jon Haynes, Consultant Psychiatrist with 2gether.

“It’s recognised nationally that men are more at risk of suicide because they may be more likely to try and self-medicate and, for example, drink heavily, than seek help from professional and voluntary services.

“Unfortunately, male stereotypes do still exist and often men feel that to admit to having mental health issues is admitting to a weakness, but we and other organisations locally and nationally are working very hard to change this.”

For more information about the Big Boys Don’t Cry conference on Friday, June 26, contact SOBS on 01452 371 945.

To contact 2gether’s Let’s Talk service call 0800 073 2200 or visit

Read more on the Gloucestershire Citizen site: 

What are your thoughts on this? Have you experience with male suicide or the mental health care system?


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