An article by Janette Ward of Circles Work:- Janette recently had a close look at Moving Forward when she trained nine members to be group facilitators (see Moving Forward Facilitators trained by Circles Work).
I was initially involved in the starting of a Moving Forward group in Mind in Bradford in 2014, where we identified that there was a gap in the provision of support particularly for men. Since then Moving Forward has grown in strength, with more and more men accessing the support and resulting in an increase in the number of groups. What makes the Moving Forward groups unique is that they are peer led, facilitated by men who have an experience of mental ill health. Their strap line is A group by men for men. Learning to live well again.
The stigma still exists ‘Real men’ don’t whine about their physical, mental or emotional problems. They work it out, suck it up or walk off. This approach means that men are suffering from mental ill health and not receiving the help they need.
According to Men’s Health Forum, 73% of adults who go missing are men; 87% of those rough sleeping are men. Looking at the prison system, men make up 95% of the prison population with 72% of male prisoners suffering from 2 or more mental health diagnoses.
In 2013 there were 6,233 suicides recorded in the UK for people 15 years and older, 78% of these were men.
4 out of 5 suicides are men, for men under 35 years of age, suicide is the biggest cause of death. Middle-aged men are particularly at risk with the number of suicides in men aged 45-59 increasing significantly in the past 5 years.
The Forum highlights that men have less access to the social support of friends, relatives and community, Moving Forward groups fill in that gap. They offer a safe, non-judgemental space with other men who have faced similar challenges.
In the Moving Forward publicity, they say that mental health is a complex subject. That you don’t need to face your issues alone, the group members understand this and they are friendly, compassionate and caring. The collective knowledge and shared experience available within the group makes it a great resource. They will make you feel at home and cared for. The group has a great collective sense of humour and laughs are guaranteed. They offer continuous ongoing support that provides knowledge and guidance to promote good mental health and wellbeing: prevention not cure. Learning to live well again, like minded people to share experience, be understood as a person not a patient.
Paul, a Moving Forward facilitator shares his experience;
“My first career was as a Sergeant in the Regular Army, that left me with an ever present anxiety, being hyper-vigilant and very driven. I went on to develop periods of severe depression, which led me to have long periods of time off work in my second career as a Police Officer. The stigma was terrible and despite being a popular officer, it drove me to leave.
From there I decided to seek outdoor manual work as I found exercise and being outside a source of wellbeing, it resulted in me being off medication for three years. Then I felt confident enough to find more mentally challenging work. In 2013 I suffered several physical health challenges, which resulted in the return of depression. I have had periods of time off work since, fortunately I have an understanding and supportive manager.
My first visit to Moving Forward was the Keighley Group, where I was made very welcome. The facilitator encouraged the men to share and I felt comfortable to share how I was feeling. It dawned on me that the men present were mainly of my age and had similar mental health experiences. I was impressed with the depth of the discussion, I immediately realised that being a part of this group would be essential to understanding my mental health and learning how to live better.
I became a regular attender and found being in the group helped me enormously and that I was also able to help and support others. After a year of being a participant I volunteered to support the group as a facilitator. I feel really committed to supporting other men to achieve good mental health and it helps me to keep well.
It was significant for me when Janette from Circles Work trained me and eight of the other men from Moving Forward to be qualified Facilitators. Facilitating Moving Forward groups is a real privilege, giving me the opportunity to share understanding, encourage confidence, supporting men to make positive, meaningful change. If there are any men out there struggling with their mental health I would suggest that they get in touch with us, let us help and support you. If you do not feel comfortable walking into a group on your own for the first time, we are happy to meet you somewhere first.”
It is free to attend any of the groups, everyone is welcome and no pressure to participate once in the group.