Posted: Mon 4th Mar 2024

Ochr yn Ochr, Side By Side: Wrexham AFC host men’s suicide & self harm prevention workshop to help “break the silence”

Wrexham.com for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and Dragon Chat, Wrexham Football Supporters’ mental health peer support group, are among those featuring at a men’s mental health support session, which has been coordinated by helpu., the mental health hub for men in Wales.

Helpu. was launched on World Suicide Prevention Day in September by father and son Ian and Jake Smith, who are passionate about de-stigmatising discussions around male suicide.

They launched the volunteer-run helpu. hub as a one-stop, comprehensive space offering stories, support and valuable resources for men, or those identifying as men, who are in need or are grappling with their mental wellbeing.

Both Ian and Jake have shared suicidal thoughts and, in collaboration with NHS Wales’ National Suicide and Self Harm Prevention team, launched Ochr yn Ochr, Side by Side, at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in December. These events aim to help unite disparate groups in order to influence policy and service delivery.
The Ochr yn Ochr Wrexham session is on Tuesday evening and is a free event for men, or those who identify as male; and who are group leaders; are interested in establishing groups; or are invested in preventing suicide and self-harm.

Ian said: “Since launching helpu. we have realized just how keen men are to share their anxieties and experiences. All groups supporting Tuesday’s event are keen to provide spaces where individuals feel comfortable discussing their struggles and seeking support. We welcome anyone interested to register to come along.”

Event partners also include Community Choice and Inclusion; S & SH (Suicide and Self Harm Prevention Cymru); Andy’s Man Club and North Wales Men’s Sheds.
Dragon Chat was formed during the pandemic to provide a place for supporters to remain connected with the club despite the restrictions on attending games in person.
There are pre-match socials before every home fixture and weekly Zoom calls for women to join on Mondays and for men on Thursdays.

Steve Lloyd from Wrexham Supporters Trust said: “Wrexham AFC has a special place within the local community, which is now being extended both nationally and internationally.

“Football has the power to bring people together from all demographics of society, allowing them to feel connected and a part of their community. Dragon Chat is in its fourth year. Talking is the first step although it can often be the hardest one.”

Jamie Lewis, Health, Fitness and Wellbeing Adviser at north Wales Fire and Rescue Service, says: “The role of a firefighter does involve, at times, working under pressure, so having support mechanisms and resources in place is very important to ensure that firefighters can balance their mental wellbeing.

“Testosterone has previously been associated with aggression, but research has found that low testosterone is more likely linked to aggression.

“Research also indicates that middle aged men, or those aged 45, who suffer with depression, have 33% less testosterone than those without depression. It is great to be involved in Tuesday’s event to discuss issues like this.”

For more information and to book your free space, which includes refreshments and an evening meal, go to: www.ticketsource/sidebyside

For support or to access helpu. resources, see www.helpu.org.uk



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