The friends who are helping to improve men's mental health in Chesterfield

Jason Cotton and Frazer Longford. Picture by Brian Eyre.
Jason Cotton and Frazer Longford. Picture by Brian Eyre.

Two friends who set up a monthly meeting in their workplace to improve men's mental health are now expanding their idea to help male members of the public in Chesterfield.

Jason Cotton, 44, of Holmgate, and 45-year-old Sheffield man Frazer Longford - who work at the Royal Mail offices on Future Walk in Chesterfield - started the group, called Men+Talk, last year.

Since then, hundreds of men have benefited from the meetings and now the pals are holding a pilot group for all males in the town.

This will take place in room three of the Parish Centre on Sheffield Road, Stonegravels, between 7pm and 9pm on April 11.

The meeting is free and open to all men, who can simply turn up on the night.

'The change in the men is incredible'

Jason told the Derbyshire Times: "After a dear friend died by suicide last year and myself going through a divorce and child access battles in the courts, I thought it would be a great idea to do actually do something to improve men's mental health and so we set up Men+Talk.

"Men+Talk is all around the subject of improving men's mental health, raising awareness, removing the stigma and ultimately reducing male suicide.

"It's been running within the workplace for around 12 months and is doing incredibly well - the feedback is wonderful.

"We've had more than 200 men benefit from at least 10 meetings held in five locations and the change in the men is incredible.

"To see the change in their energy from the start to end of the meeting is simply great.

"We've heard many harrowing stories but we’ve also head many incredible turnaround tales.

"We simply provide a platform for men to speak out in an open, honest and confidential environment - they are the heros and this is their time to shout.

"Men+Talk is a meeting just for men with a motto of 'what's said in the room, stays in the room - that's our number one rule.'."

'We simply wish to enhance men's mental health'

Jason added: "There are so many guys just in Chesterfield alone who are going through hell, unable to see a way out.

"We simply wish to enhance men's mental health as much as we possibly can so Frazer and I are currently expanding to the public with a pilot meeting.

"We have many survivors coming along.

"We intend to stop the helter skelter of negative thoughts early on in their tracks, simply by getting men to talk about them - and they do; in fact they often can't wait to get it out, it's been bottled up so much.

"Our meetings are fiercely open, brutally honest and incredibly dark as well as energetic and positive with many, many laughs.

"We're not counselors or therapists - we're just two blokes who have been through hell and been lucky enough to survive.

"There are so many more of us out there and we want to reach out and ease the suffering that so many men go through."

Information from the Mental Health Foundation charity

Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 50 in the UK. Those at highest risk are men aged between 40 and 44 who have a rate of 24.1 deaths per 100,000 population. One reason that men are more likely to complete suicide may be because they are less likely than women to ask for help or talk about depressive or suicidal feelings. Recent statistics show that only 27 per cent of people who died by suicide between 2005 and 2015 had been in contact with mental health services in the year before they died. The statistics highlight that talking about suicide is still highly stigmatised. Talking about suicide and understanding it better is necessary to help prevent further suicides in the UK.

Whoever you are, however you feel, whatever life has done to you, please remember that you are not alone and help is at hand. You can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123 or email them jo@Samaritans.org. The Samaritans are there all day, every day.