Laughter is one of life’s greatest remedies and this was certainly the case for ‘Man Down? Stand Up!’ a comedy and discussion evening held last month.
Organised by Like Minded, the mental health strategy for North West London and the West London Collaborative, the event was a joint effort to explore and discuss the emotional health and wellbeing of men in North West London. The Questors Theatre in Ealing saw over 60 people including comedians, community members, clinicians, local public authority figures and commissioners come together to enjoy an evening of stand-up comedy and discussion. We were delighted that at the event, Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing pledged her commitment to the training of all of her staff around mental health awareness.
The event was compéred by Jack Rooke (pictured), a Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) Ambassador and comedian who has enjoyed a sell-out run of his show regarding his own experiences of grief following his father’s death.
There was a drive to highlight the differences between stereotypical ‘male experiences’ of mental health in opposition to that of typical ‘female experiences’; part of on-going work by Like Minded, around common mental health needs including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The evening discussed the mental health and well-being of the male community in Ealing. This was followed by a lively line-up of comedic sketches, which provoked discussion and added a light tone to some of the incredibly complex and difficult issues associated with men’s mental health. Audience members contributed their thoughts and experiences, assisted by a panel of comedians and Councillor Abdullah Gulaid from Ealing Council.
Cllr Gulaid also presented at the event, stating the importance of recognising the mental health needs of the community in Ealing, and the council’s responsibility towards local residents in addressing these needs.
The evening provided real insight with discussions on “what do you currently do when you’re feeling down?” and “what can the community do to support men’s mental wellbeing?” The audience’s suggestions included; being more open about mental health and wellbeing, initiatives in schools and providing venues where people with mental health issues can visit as a safe space.
Cath Attlee, Head of Integrated Commissioning for Ealing Council and Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:
“We all get miserable sometimes; sometimes we can pull ourselves out – sometimes we need help from others. Men often find it harder to talk about it and to ask for help. The Man Down event helped us understand the range and complexity of men’s experiences and talk about the different ways in which both healthcare services and the wider community can help (and it made us laugh!).”
Everyone was invited to make a pledge regarding their own actions towards mental health on a drinks mat. Pledges encouraged the audience to think about what they could do differently as an individual and as a community to help others in regards to mental health and practical steps to engage men in wellbeing related activities. These included; spending more time, having patience and quality listening time with male family members and friends, smiling more and encouraging connections with strangers, highlighting therapeutic approaches and looking out for others.
Men’s Health Week is 13 - 19 June 2016, the theme this year is ‘Beat Stress’. See https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/beat-stress-feel-better for ideas and resources.
Mental Health Awareness Week is 16 - 20 May, the theme is relationships and connections. See https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week