“It is like being given the tools to build a house.” That is the verdict on Wolves Foundation’s pioneering Head 4 Health sessions from participant Arun, who feels it has done him ‘the world of good’ to become involved in the project.
Head 4 Health, which was set up to help men from Wolverhampton improve their mental health, has been such a success that it has now received funding for a further three years, as well as additional investment to help introduce the same programme for women as well as one-to-one counselling.
The importance of the project, which involves workshops, physical activities and additional drop-in sessions, is shown by people like Arun, whose mental health has changed for the better since attending the programme.
“I was struggling with my mental health during the first lockdown and saw an advert for Head 4 Health and it helped quite a lot to be honest,” he says.
“It was nice having somewhere where you can vent and you can meet people who have maybe similar issues to yourself and it seems like it's an extended family to be honest.
“It helped me to regain my confidence just put things into a better perspective to be honest.
“Having kept all my emotions bottled in for so long, it's done me the world of good actually talking about it, to the right people and having the right support network around me.”
Arun was speaking to the Foundation to help promote Mental Health Awareness Day, and believes it is such a vital issue – particularly for men - that it should be talked about all the year around.
“As a man as well, it is difficult to talk about mental health because there is a stigma of ‘just be a man and just get on with it’, but, to be honest., I think it's more of a strength talking about it,” he added.
“I think it's when you tried to process everything in your head at one time it can get a bit muddled up in a bit of a mess, but Head 4 Health has given me the tools to essentially build a house.
“I suppose it has just helped me realise my strengths and to move forward in a more positive manner.”
Arun believes healing is an individual process and people need to be in the right place to seek help and may move at different speeds when doing so.
But for those who are keen to receive that support, he says Head 4 Health is certainly a project to consider.
“I'd definitely recommend this to everybody - men and women - because we need to talk and we need to get this off our chest,” he added.
“I think the first step is the hardest step, actually admitting that you need help and then reaching out to get help.
“But there is support there and to be honest, you owe it to yourself because at the end of the day living life with depression and anxiety isn’t nice and there is a lot more to life than feeling low and negative all the time.
“For me, I'm trying to do something positive with all the negative that happened in my life - I'm trying to try and flip the script basically.”