Stand By Men group supports men with mental health issues in Stevenage
PUBLISHED: 16:53 08 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:53 08 July 2019
A group of men from Stevenage have formed a support network to help men talk about their mental health - and have already joined together to help a North Herts pensioner in need.
The Stand By Men Facebook group, which currently has 159 members, welcomes men of all ages to seek help and guidance from others who have suffered from mental health issues.
When the group formed it was called 'Stand By Me' and helped both men and women, but it has now separated into two groups - although the original page still exists.
Stand By Men meets every two weeks on Mondays from 7pm to 9m at Bedwell Community Centre in Bedwell Crescent, with the next meeting held on Monday, July 8.
Group founder Terry Arthur, 49, said: "All men are welcome. Usually between 15 and 20 guys turn up. We offer tea, coffee and biscuits, and we all openly talk and discuss our problems.
"I have bipolar disorder, PTSD, anxiety and depression. We've got a WhatsApp group that we use and we all reach out to each other." Terry, who lives in the Bedwell area of Stevenage, is trying to get the group registered as an official charity, as well as trying to achieve sponsorship to cover the cost of hiring the hall.
He said: "On Monday seven of us did a pensioner's front and rear garden in Letchworth. We cut the grass and pruned the bushes back.
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"That was voluntary - we just want to get the group out there."
The group has plans to do similar volunteer projects locally, including painting a nursery and maintaining the playground.
Following the creation of Stand By Men, Stand By Me still meets as a women's group every second Tuesday from 7pm at Bedwell Community Centre.
A statement on the Stand By Men Facebook page says: "Let's get back to openly talking about things and try to get the male suicide rate down. It's not weak to talk about your issues. It's a strength to seek help and guidance from your brothers that have been through the same or similar situations.
"Together us blokes can look after each other and take a bit of time out of our days to encourage and help our fellow man."
Terry said: "We just wanted to concentrate on men. Men hide their mental health and struggle behind closed doors.
"We're always there to support anyone - we don't judge."
To join search 'Stand By Men' on Facebook.