New campaign “Light On” shines a light on mental health across Dorset to tackle stigma and change the way men talk
Light On is a life-changing campaign launching across Dorset to tackle the stigma of talking about mental distress and emotional struggle – particularly among men.
A network of organisations including local businesses, the NHS, Public Health Dorset and Bournemouth University, have joined force. They aim to build mental wellbeing together and put an end to men dealing with mental health difficulties alone and in the dark. The campaign urges men to go beyond banter and talk openly about how they are feeling and whether they are coping. It aims to train champions and ambassadors to spread this message across the whole of Dorset reaching men where they work, exercise, socialise and live.
Local businesses, individuals, charities and sports clubs will be encouraged to join the campaign as it gains momentum. They will be asked to share the message ‘turn your light on’ that gives permission to someone to have a conversation about mental health challenges.
Light On Founders
Andrew Coleman, founder of Light On says, “It is time to put an end to the silent struggle among men because of the taboo and stigma about talking when you’re not coping very well. This silence is leading to pain, suffering and suicide – and it has to stop. This campaign will save people’s lives because it will make it OK for people to have a conversation and ask for help. It will transform the way Dorset people, men in particular; deal with mental health and mental health difficulty. We want as many people as possible to share our message and to get involved. We must create such a loud voice between us that everyone knows how to have a conversation about seeking and receiving help. We want thousands of people to ‘turn their Light on’ with us.”
Andy is one of a group of men who met through local charity Dorset Mind and wanted to do more to help other men who may be struggling. All these men have personal experience of the difficulties and damage caused by mental health problems, with many of them losing friends or colleagues to suicide.
Ty Temel, Owner of Halo Bournemouth comments, “A year ago we started talking about how we could stop this wave of distress amongst men in Dorset that is leading some to take their own lives. It’s great that this campaign coming to fruition – as the start of a larger piece of work. There are so many of us who have lain awake at 3am wondering how much longer we can cope and not knowing where to turn. We wanted to create a campaign that showed people that it’s OK to talk, it’s OK to say you’re not coping well and it’s OK to get help. If people show that they have their ‘Light On’ then others will know that they’re someone to talk to, who will listen. That, in turn, will shine a light on this issue and bring it out of the shadows.”
Light on research
The campaign was built using research from panels of men across Dorset who shared how they felt about talking about mental health. They helped to shape the campaign’s focus on making sure that men knew how to talk as well as when to talk. As a result, local businesses, clubs, charities and individuals will be offered training and workshops to train people in the basics of mental wellbeing in later phases of the campaign. Importantly, they will be encouraged to have courageous conversations that go beyond everyday banter.
Marianne Storey, CEO at Dorset Mind says, “This is such a vital campaign for people in Dorset, particularly at this time as we recover from the Covid19 pandemic. Even more people than ever are struggling with mental distress and it is essential that we create a county that is open and compassionate about talking about it. I believe that Light On is going to save lives. If enough people get involved and turn their ‘Lights On’ then more people can come forward and ask for help. If we all play our own vital role in this campaign then we can contribute to preventing distress and ultimately suicide. We must not give up until everyone has the help they need.”
Dee Swinton, Income Generation and Marketing Manager at Dorset Mind says, “Light On has been launched as a response to a growing awareness of mental health issues, especially among men. A survey by Mind found that one in eight men in the UK admit to suffering from mental health problems. Importantly, suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 45. At Dorset Mind we are determined to tackle these statistics alongside our partners and change the situation for men in Dorset”.
A 5-year campaign
A survey is being carried out by Bournemouth University to find out what Dorset men feel about their mental health. It will also focus on what might be stopping them seeking help.
The findings will help the Light On team further develop their campaign. It will run for 5 years across Dorset and is expected to reach hundreds of thousands of people. Many local businesses such as Osprey, AFC Bournemouth and both BCP and Dorset councils are already on board. The organisers are expecting many more to sign up online as word spreads across communities and workplaces.
For more information please visit http://www.lightonMH.uk
If you need help for your mental health, visit our ‘Help and Support’ pages for details of what we offer across Dorset.