Tackling the taboo of male mental health

An organisation that supports men’s mental health has been awarded £10,000 by the Steve Morgan Foundation.

JourneyMEN is the brainchild of former Wirral policeman Phil Roberts and officially opened its doors on April 7, 2020.

It was during his work as a policeman that he realised there was a huge gap in provision for men in mental distress, which often had tragic consequences.

Phil explained: “I have been involved in community police work for the best part of two decades. What I have learned was that so many problems that came to the attention of the police and first responder services were very often issues to do with mental health underlying them and unfortunately unacknowledged.

“Too often, men faced the revolving door of the legal system and medical services with no through route to the right support at the right time. As I learnt, that was not because services were not here, but because men at those stages of vulnerability could not navigate their way through to access the right support best suited for their individual situation. I knew that we could do better than that. And that is where our journey begins.”

JourneyMEN offers a way join up the support that is available. Phil added: “Many of our men don’t do ‘therapy’ in a clinical setting but, like me, they do love a cup of tea, banter and a supportive ear to connect, talk and be properly listened to. For many, being outside is a better place to unload than on a counsellor’s couch and that is why we will resume taking out the narrowboat as soon as regulations allow.”

JourneyMEN’s first employee Liam Anderson (pictured) has spoken about overcoming his own journey from poor mental health after his marriage broke up to recovery here

In the first two months of opening men have been referred to JourneyMEN from: Citizen’s Advice Wirral Social Prescribing Team; Merseyside Police; Wirral Borough Council (WBC) Early Help Team; WBC Social Services; DWP (Job Centre) Wirral; Involve Northwest; and several other agencies and charities.

The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown resulted in some men experiencing mental health problems for the first time and others suffering from increased anxiety.

To try and tackle the problem JourneyMEN launched a huge publicity drive during the past two months to ensure that men on Wirral knew of their existence.

JourneyMEN has been open throughout the Covid-19 crisis and is based at 56 Chester Street, Birkenhead, CH41 5EA. They can also be contacted at 0151 792 9159 or email enquiries@journeymencic.com

Steve Morgan, founder of the Steve Morgan Foundation, said: “Mental health is a growing problem and the stark fact is it’s the biggest killer of men in the UK under the age of 45. That’s why the work of organisations like JourneyMEN is vital.”

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