Podio Preston spoke to William Killeen, Director of Menhear Community Interest Company (CIC), to find out how their online meetings are helping to improve the mental health of men in Preston during the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown. This is what he told us:
“Menhear https://www.menhear.co.uk/ is an all-male group that was set up due to the rise in poor mental health among men, and the lack of services available to them. Menhear has three key points, it is a grassroots community led support group, a peer-led support group and offers a one to one service. We aim to tackle all aspects of mental health and we currently have men attending who are living with paranoid schizophrenia, depression or anxiety. We also help ex-convicts and drug users, but the main issue we deal with is loneliness and isolation.
Menhear provided Preston men with an opportunity to engage in a one to one, person-centred chat at their convenience. We promote an open-door approach but however respect the need for privacy and confidentiality. Group sessions were also in place, enabling the scope for the ever-growing diverse needs within men’s help to be recognised and helps us promote engagement and inclusive collaboration. Menhear also promotes practical activities and group work, giving men further opportunity to be involved in the pre-prescription programme. This programme includes engaging in various projects including community work. The objectives of Menhear, by facilitating such programmes, is to allow men to look at what they require to rejuvenate their mental health. This will help with the emotional and physical aspects of their own well being.
When the Covid 19 lockdown was first announced, we were a little worried about the impact this could have on Menhear and the men we support as one of the main issues Menhear deals with is isolation. Men from all walks of life attended, and our groups had become part of their routine. As one of them said, “I’m ok with having a bad week as on Wednesday I can get it all off my chest”. With this in mind, we decided to tackle the problem by creating two online group sessions a week via Zoom. Two other men’s groups in the area also got involved. These were the guys that run Happy Daze at the Harris Museum in Preston and another group from Lancaster called Wise Guys. Together we realised that we had to stand together throughout this pandemic.
The first session we ran, only a couple of men came online; I think this was due to some of the men being reluctant due to shyness or anxiety. We set up a WhatsApp group for all the guys in the groups (around 25 altogether) so they could all contact one another. This really helped as when they could see other men talking about how good the online group was and they decided to give it a try too. Now the group sessions have gone from strength to strength. Menhear CIC currently has men attending from Preston, Blackburn, Blackpool, Lancaster and all over Lancashire. We have more men using our service then we did during our physical groups. We are getting more and more men attending every week due to them being isolated.
We can’t wait to get back to being able to sit in a room and have a brew and a chat or do a spot of gardening but these meetings have been so successful that we have decided to continue to hold them once a week. This will be especially helpful as most of our facilitating is done during regular work hours so there will be something for those who are in daytime employment to access, should they need to.
Currently, Menhear meetings are held every Tuesday and Saturday at 2 pm, the Zoom link is posted an hour before on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/menhearcic/ For more information about Menhear CIC and the support they provide contact William Killeen email@example.com .”