A NEW Barnsley Council-funded programme has been launched to support the mental wellbeing of men across the borough.

Team Talk, led by Reds in the Community, wants to get men talking and socialising with others in a safe and supportive environment.

The weekly session offers a combined approach to emotional wellbeing, drawing together a mix of social activities and peer support in a football setting.

Statistics show that three times as many men die by suicide than women, though men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women - only 36 per cent of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men.

Sean Margison, the health and wellbeing co-ordinator at Reds in the Community, has urged residents to get involved and wants to emphasise that the sessions will be entirely led by those who get involved.

He told the Chronicle: “I think as fellas we try and push away our feelings and our emotions but that’s something that needs to stop.

“We need to realise that it’s not just you in that situation and there are other people going through the same thing - you could learn from other people how they’re coping and it might help.

“It’s not going to just be a circle of chairs and people speaking about their experiences - it’s going to be led completely by the participants.”

Sean thinks now is the perfect time for people to get involved with the project as more and more men start to recognise that they are suffering.

“I don’t think that we’ve ever done a project like this before but it’s definitely a hot topic at the minute,” he added.

“After going through social isolation during lockdown it’s now more important than ever for people to speak up.

“We all struggle with our mental health at times and more people will have recognised that they’re suffering because of the lockdown - this programme is a great way to get involved with social interaction.”

The programme’s co-ordinators are hoping that they can get some guest speakers into the sessions, which are held on Wednesday at 6pm at Oakwell, and potentially even current and former players.

“It’s a low-level mental health initiative where people are going to have the opportunity to have a general chat but there’s no pressure for anyone to speak about anything,” Sean added.

“We’re supported on the project by the MIND charity and Samaritans - we’re hoping that we can get people in before it gets to that next stage.

“It’s a nice, relaxed atmosphere and there’s no pressure to come and speak out about it if you don’t feel like you want to - just coming for a chat can help.

“We’re looking at getting some guest speakers to talk about their own experiences and we’re hoping that we can get some former and current players in too.”

To register to attend the meeting, fill in the form on the organisation’s website.