“At one of the recent festivals I was delivering a mental health talk and talking about the fact that when men finally do choose to open up the response is often weak and needs to improve. That initial response is utterly pivotal at such a vulnerable moment. Frequently men are met with phrases such as ‘man up’ or ‘you need to be strong’ or they are met with complete avoidance and the listener begins talking about themselves. All and any of these will leave the person feeling undervalued and utterly unheard. During the Q&A section of my talk a gentleman put up his hand and said that this had been his experience and he was really struggling. So I finished my talk and stepped outside the tent to have a private conversation with this man. He shared that he felt utterly worthless and that he was making a firm plan to end his life that day at the event or if not then very soon. I spent some time with him, helping him to explore the positives that do still exist in his life. It was important to help him find them rather than telling him what he should be doing. I left him with a qualified psychiatrist that looked after him and helped him connect with the Safeguarding Team at the festival, therefore keeping him safe for now.
Another quick example was a young man that came and found us at a Festival and told us that he had found the work that we were doing online during lockdown and that he had had many friends that had ended their lives, one of whom had done it in front of him. This young man had researched the work of the Lions Barber Collective and seen some of the public speaking I had done. It was enough for him to seek help and to start searching for his own journey to recovery. In-fact he helped and stayed with us the whole weekend, working with the charity. He is now in contact with us and is volunteering for myblackdog.co a free online listening service but he also plans to partner with the Lions Barber collective to offer a listening service for our volunteers – it’s so important to find that healthy outlet, so that someone is available to listen to our listeners.”