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Fighting The Stigma: Hastings Borough Council Introduces Men’s Mental Health Initiative

hastings borough council and mental health

Active Hastings has announced their next Men’s mental health course called ‘Men: Mind and Muscles’ due to start next month. It is free, lasts 8 weeks and focuses primarily on strategies to manage mental wellbeing.

Hastings Borough Council: the plan

Active Hastings is hosted by Hastings Borough Council, in partnership with East Sussex County Council, and brings together a wide range of local and national partners to ensure that everyone in Hastings can participate in physical activity.

Active Hastings coordinates the local Community Physical Activity Network, which brings together schools, sport clubs, National Governing Bodies of Sport, health organisations, the voluntary sector and the private sector to work together, unblock barriers to participation and improve the local sport and physical activity delivery system.

The Men: Mind and Muscle course aims to create a friendly and non-judgemental space for men aged 30-59. The sessions begin with a 45-minute talking round led by by Natalie Greenall from Believe in You, followed by a 45 minute exercise class with Richard Pringle from RP Combat Conditioning.

Richard said: “We all now know there’s a real connection between mental and physical wellbeing and this course is designed to encourage men to not only talk about their feelings, worries and anxieties but also to develop coping strategies and explore the link with physical health and how this can have a real positive impact on our lives too.”

The importance of mental health

Supporting people’s mental health is beneficial for multiple reasons – allowing people to live fulfilling lives with a positive outlook and sense of purpose leads to the maintenance of social relationships within families, communities and wider society, productivity, and improved physical health.

Within society, more focus is now being placed on men’s mental health. Based on stereotypes of men as ‘strong’ and ‘emotionless’, the mental wellbeing of men has been traditionally unrecognised or stigmatised. Therefore, men are still less likely than women to seek help for their mental health when they need it.

Common mental health problems in men include depression, anxiety, and substance abuse— left untreated, these result in negative consequences for their own lives and others. For example, men at a higher risk of suicide than women, particularly men aged between 50 and 54. This highlights the importance of addressing mental health problems in men and providing appropriate support and resources.

Hastings Borough Council is therefore attempting to break down the social stigma associated with men’s mental health by addressing barriers and providing accessible and affordable mental health services.

Andy Batsford, lead councillor for Health and Culture at Hastings Borough Council, said: “We are delighted to be offering this new class to men in Hastings and St Leonards. We hope this course will give local men the opportunity to feel empowered and learn valuable coping strategies to improve their mental wellbeing.” 

Final Thought

Although men’s mental health is being discussed more, it remains a stigmatised issue. Hastings Borough Council is making a move in the right direction by providing solid strategies which focus on normalising discussions around mental health, providing education and enabling access to safe spaces.

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