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Mikeysline calls for greater awareness of male suicide this Men's Health Week

By Imogen James

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Volunteer Graeme.
Volunteer Graeme.

THE Inverness based mental health charity is highlighting the levels of male suicide in Scotland during International Men's Health Week from June 13-19.

According to the latest statistics from the National Records of Scotland, men accounted for 71 percent of suicides in Scotland in 2020.

In 2020, suicides in Scotland were highest for men aged 35-39. Overall, one in every five suicide deaths was to someone under the age of 30.

The charity has a monthly men's group which meets in Inverness and is run by men for men as a safe space to share concerns.

Mikeysline men’s group volunteer Graeme said: “Traditionally men struggle to talk openly about their emotions. Whether men feel like addressing their feelings is a show of weakness, feel ashamed for needing help, or are embarrassed to be struggling, it can be easy for them to bottle up their emotions until they feel like they are at breaking point.

“Although thankfully these old stereotypes are starting to fade, there is still so much to be done to support men through difficult times in their lives – and Mikeysline’s new men’s group goes some way to continuing that process alongside the text-based and 1:1 support we provide.

“By allowing men to gather together and share their concerns and feelings, it opens up the conversation that it’s ok not to be ok – and that there are others out there going through similar experiences. Just knowing you are not fighting this battle alone can make all the difference.

“Each session is themed around a relevant topic, chosen by the group at the previous meeting. As well as providing support and an introduction to Mikeysline’s other services, the men’s group offers a chance for men to socialise and meet other people with shared interests.”

Mikeysline was founded in 2015 following the tragic deaths of good friends, Martin Shaw and Michael (Mikey) Williamson within 48 hours of each other.

Mikey’s uncle, Ron Williamson, started the charity along with a group of like-minded individuals who wanted to provide greater mental health support for the Highlands, where suicide rates are higher than elsewhere in Scotland.

Mr Williamson said: “Speaking to many of Michael's friends and peers after his funeral made me aware that there was very little help available for young people struggling with a multitude of mental health issues. What help there was seemed to be basically ‘man up and soldier on’, all in hushed terms.

“Over the seven years since Mikeysline started, thankfully more & more small organisations are breaking through this 'macho' barrier, and encouraging those struggling to open up, share, and help each other. Local celebrities such as the Stoltman brothers, football managers and players, and leaders in commerce are sharing their experiences, letting people know that it's OK to talk.

“Now, in schools throughout the Highlands, the wonderful Mikeysline team is teaching resilience and hope to children at an age when this kind of training, and the assurance that they are not alone, is most needed to give them the armour they need to cope with future problems."

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