NFRC, the UK’s largest roofing trade association, is backing a new campaign from Samaritans, Real People Real Stories, which aims to use real life stories to reach men struggling to cope before reaching crisis point, encouraging them to seek help.
As part of the campaign, Samaritans are sharing new research of the impact of lockdown measures on the mental health of working-age (18-59) men.
This showed two-in-five (42%) men felt that the Covid-19 restrictions had had a negative impact on their mental health.
Almost half (47%) of respondents had felt feelings of anxiety (47%), a similar number experienced loneliness and/or isolation (42%), and just over a third (34%) said lockdown put a strain on their relationships.
However, 40% of respondents said that talking to others helped with the concerns and worries they had during lockdown, showing the importance of seeking help and getting support when they needed it.
Real People, Real Stories runs from 11 August to 27 September and aims to reach men aged 18-59 years and above who are feeling low and struggling to cope.
Men who have found life tough, experienced depression or suicidal thoughts have written words of support to other men and these will feature in films, shared across social media, radio, buses and TV.
You can also support by following the campaign @samaritanscharity on Instagram or on Twitter @samaritans or Facebook, using the hashtag #RealPeopleRealStories.
NFRC, Head of Technical, Bob Richardson commented: “We strongly welcome Samaritans’ Real People, Real Stories campaign. This new research paints a troubling picture of the affect that lockdown has had on the mental health of working-age men, such as loneliness, anxiety and financial worries.
Samaritans want to use this campaign to reach anyone who is struggling during this pandemic, to prevent them from reaching crisis point, and show the importance of seeking help.”
“Sadly, suicide is still one of the biggest killers in construction, taking on average two lives a day, with roofing being one of the occupations with the highest risk – almost three times more than the average.
“That is why NFRC are working with the Samaritans to explore different ways of supporting tradesmen in construction who may be struggling, and welcome this initiative”
“This campaign offers a positive alternative, by showing real life stories of men who have sought help and overcome tough times. If you know someone who is finding things difficult at the moment, then encourage them to seek help.
Anyone can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123, 24 hours a day 365 days a year or visit Samaritans.org to explore their self-help tools and information.”
Samaritans Executive Director of External Affairs, Paul McDonald adds: “This pandemic has brought unexpected change and uncertainty, which will have a lasting impact on everyone’s mental health and wellbeing.
“At Samaritans we know that less well off, middle-aged men have remained the highest risk group for suicide in the UK for decades and that the restrictions put in place during lockdown such as isolation and disconnection will have exacerbated problems for these men.”
“We understand the value of listening and the power of human connection, particularly at this time when so many people are dealing with overwhelming thoughts and feelings.
“We know that sharing stories of recovery does encourage men to seek help, so we hope that our Real People, Real Stories campaign can help other men to see that they can do it too and know that Samaritans is always there when they want to talk.”
Suicide is a complex issue
Suicide is a complex issue resulting from a wide range of psychological, social, economic and cultural risk factors which interact and increase an individual’s level of risk.
In the ROI, the gap between suicide rates among men aged 45-54 and those of other ages has grown since the mid-1990s.
In the UK, suicide rates for middle-aged men (aged 40-59) have fluctuated over the last couple of decades. However, this group have consistently faced an elevated suicide rate compared to other groups, and over the past decade, men in their 40s have regularly faced the highest suicide rates of any age or gender group.
Following a period of steady or declining rates over almost 30 years, the suicide rate for middle-aged men rose following the recession in the late 2000s. While rates began reducing once again from 2014-2017, they have remained higher than any pre-recession year since the early 1990s, and there are recent indications that they may be rising once again.
Suicide is not equal – men in the lowest social class, living in the most deprived areas, are up to ten times more at risk of suicide than those in the highest social class, living in the most affluent areas. Those working in an occupation classified as roofing, slating and tiling are 2.7 times more likely to be at risk of suicide.
Mental Health Research
The research was conducted by YouGov in July 2020 among a sample of 1,943 men aged 18-59. Key findings include:
- 42% of men feel that the restrictions during lockdown have had a negative impact on their mental health
- 42% of men have experienced feelings of loneliness and/or isolation during lockdown
- 47% of men have experienced feelings of anxiety during lockdown
- Almost half (44%) of men find it hard to talk to someone about the way they are feeling when they are finding things tough
- A third of men found lockdown put a strain on relationships (34%)
- 40% of men say talking to others has helped with any struggles during lockdown
- 65% say technology has helped them feel more connected to friends and family
- Almost half of men (48%) are worried about what impact the coronavirus will have on their financial situation
- 44% are worried about what the impact the coronavirus will have on their job
- Over half (56%) are worried/ anxious as lockdown restrictions lift
- 59% don’t feel comfortable socialising while there are still restrictions in place
- 59% of men are worried about the future