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Allia’s No Man Left Behind event encourages men to open up about mental health

According to the Office for National Statistics, over three out of four suicides (76%) are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35.

Addressing these issues, Allia Serious Impact recently hosted the ‘No Man Left Behind’ workshop at the Allia Future Business Centre, Cambridge, to continue conversations on men’s mental health.

The workshop followed on from a successful Allia Community Challenge earlier this year, and is part of an ongoing series focused on encouraging men to speak about their mental health and help them to find effective solutions.

Over 30 men from all walks of life – from a former BBC journalist to an up-and-coming comedian and everything in between – spent the evening sharing their stories and contributing to discussions on the most prominent issues and how they could be tackled.

After an initial ‘meet, greet and eat’, four speakers shared their experiences with mental health issues and what they did to address them.

Neil Prem, Allia’s head of enterprise engagement, Doug Stanton, director of Sector Three Property, John Harper, chief executive of Rize and Rob Harper each discussed their experiences with mental health, prompting further thought about some of the issues surrounding identity, depression and anxiety.

Insights into men’s mental health were discussed, with the aim of finding sustainable solutions to the issues that arose. The most innovative ideas will be channelled through the Allia Serious Impact programme which supports entrepreneurs to grow and develop their business ideas, with the ultimate goal to make an impact and improve people’s lives.

Neil Prem, who organises the events, has been continually surprised by the success of these challenges, and welcomes the openness and honesty that attendees bring to the discussions. “We never set out to do a series of events,” said Neil. “Everybody said to me that we would never get men talking about it, and so I thought let’s have a go. I was blown away that we had around 20 guys show up for the first event alone.”

Common themes became apparent during the evening, with issues like identity resonating with attendees. Neil also feels that the events have brought into clarity the fact that mental health doesn’t discriminate, and that many men feel uncomfortable when talking about their struggles. “I received a number of emails from people saying they were stunned by how open the talks were and how vulnerable the speakers were about their struggles.” he said.

Simon Hall, freelance journalist, teacher and former BBC journalist, attended the event and wrote an insightful blog post about his experience. “The most important thing I took away from the event is that men who suffer with their feelings are not alone, however much it might feel they are,” said Simon. “The room of others around me, nodding at the same points and exchanging looks of mutual support, was a huge comfort, and said more than words ever could.”

Due to the continued success of the events and the need for further work in this important area, Allia Serious Impact intends to host another event in the next few months, taking forward solutions that have business potential, and continuing to provide an open and safe space for men to listen, learn and talk about their mental health. To find out more, visit the Serious Impact website.