Man who considered ending his own life now working for mental health support group who helped him

A man who felt there was no way out but to commit suicide is now proud to be part of a charity which aims to break the social stigma surrounding men’s mental health in Sheffield.

Andy’s Man Club (AMC) is a national charity that has several support groups across the city which encourage men to share their experiences and talk about their mental health.

Sean Gill was helped by AMC when he started attending a group after he felt suicidal due to problems he was facing in life. 

The 37-year-old describes what it is like to enter the group for the first time.

“In both a physical and mental way, the literal sense of walking through that door is sometimes the hardest,” said Sean.

“Physically because it’s difficult to walk into a group that you’ve never been to before and mentally because it’s the apprehension you feel, especially if you’re socially anxious.”

After attending as a ‘user’ – what Sean describes as a man over the age of 18 that joins the group – he then became a facilitator of a group in Grimsby. Now a project development champion at AMC, Sean said that he is proud that he stood up and got help.

The ex-mechanic said: “I turned that experience into something where I can help the next bloke. 

“In the last 12 months at the club I opened in Grimsby, there have been 2000 men that have walked through the door.

“I am proud that I have been able to help that many men and be a part of something that helps men grow and continue to do so.”

Whilst Sean says that he has no formal training on this subject, he categorises the stigma that may stop more men from seeking support into two groups.

He said: “The first is a burden. Generally men don’t want to put a burden on people around them, so it’s hard for them to talk to people around them.

“Then there’s guilt which goes hand in hand with burden. Men tend to feel guilty for not supporting people around them, and they don’t want people to feel sorry for them.

“It’s all about breaking down those barriers about yourself to change your own mentality and attitude.”

Sean said that the way to break down the barriers is “all through being able to talk” and hopes the more the stigma breaks, the higher the number of people who will use the service.

“With our sessions at AMC there’s no judgement, no pressure, and no commitment,” he added.

“We are not there to give advice or to solve people’s issues, what we are here for is to give men a platform to get things off their chest.

“It could be moaning about the pressures of life, it could be family issues. AMC gives them the courage to approach the situation. The best reward is and always will be when that man walks through the door.”

Andy’s Man Club meets every Monday at 7pm at three locations in Sheffield. The meetings are held at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service HQ on Eyre Street in Sheffield city centre, the Limes Community Centre in Beighton, and Hillsborough Park Bowls Pavillion off Middlewood Road.

Written by Benjamin Todd

Reporter for ShefNews

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