U OK M8?

Every now and then you have to admit that you are wrong. For me today is one of those days. Recently Lad Bible, known to me as a provider of annoying videos on Facebook, launched a campaign called “U OK M8?” I blocked Lad Bible from appearing on my Facebook wall years ago and with titles like that I wasn’t exactly excited by the campaign or even willing to give it the time of day. As it turns out it is a campaign that is not only worth my time but one that we should all check out.

U OK M8 is a three month campaign with a range of charity partners including CALM, the Samaritans, The Movember Foundation and Mental Health Foundation. It starts from a simple point: suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 and 41% of men who have thought about taking their own lives have talked to precisely no one about it. This is, to put it mildly, not good. The folk over at Lad Bible thought so too and decided to do something about it.

That something was to celebrate the men who did the brave thing and opened up about their problems. It all kicked off in September with a video featuring Olympic Gymnast Louis Smith opening up about his own dealings with depression. Though Lad Bibles coverage on mental health goes back further.

It also features a series of documentaries called Everyday Heroes. The first one features a swimming club called Swim Dem Crew. The group started out as some friends who wanted to get together and have a chat and a swim. It is now a safe place for anyone to go and have a talk and swim.

The Lad Bible website also carries the stories of guys who have opened up to others about their struggles and benefited from it.

It features the story of Jack who as a student tried to hide his mental health problems from his flat mates. As a result he avoided nights out that he would have normally enjoyed and got labeled as a downer. After a while he and his new flat mates where falling out so Jack did “one of the hardest things he’s ever done” and told his flat mates about his struggles. They were a little upset he hadn’t been able to tell them before but were glad he had now and offered him the support and space that he needed.

Then there is Oli an aspiring actor. He thought he was “a bit weird” and tried to follow his dad’s advice to “man up”. Just when he was getting on top of his problems he lost his job and girlfriend in quick succession. This lead to his first of 4 attempts to take his own life. Fortunately he survived and reached out for help and now is in a group of young men in similar situation that all look out for each other.

The message from Lad Bible is clear we need to open up about how we are feeling and talk through our problems. Doing so will net us the support we need.

It seems I need to apologize to Lad Bible. Their campaign is exactly the sort we need and I was wrong to judge it on its surface. True the name wouldn’t have brought me into the conversation but I’m already here so perhaps that is, like the campaign, a good thing.

Need to talk to someone?

Call CALM helpline on 0800 58 58 58 or 0808 802 58 58 if you are in London. Open 5pm-midnight 365.

Call Samaritans on 116 123

A list of international helplines can be found here. Unfortunately we cannot vouch for lines in this list.

Photo by Sylvar originally found on Flickr used under creative commons license