WE are in the middle of an epidemic.

Last year it was reported that suicide was on the rise in Scotland, and in particular in young men. Rising by 15%, there were 784 probable suicides registered in Scotland in 2018, an increase from 680 in 2017. The suicide rate for males was three times that for females.

With the recent news of Caroline Flack’s sad passing, the spotlight is back on those providing support for people suffering with their mental health, and the necessity for having that support there.

“We have to get people talking,” says George Dunn, a volunteer with Men Matter Scotland – the charity supporting men in Glasgow through their struggles with mental health.

“If you sit back and let it rumble about in your mind, in the background, one day you’ll crack. It might be too late. We want to encourage people in those positions to talk to us.”

George, who is 44 and stays in Drumchapel, has helped to launch the new hub that he says will give men the space to breathe and talk. He also takes the weekly hillwalking groups, and the Thursday evening football games.

“We’ve been about since last April,” he explains.

“It started with some guys in Drumchapel, as Dads Matter. It was just a place for Dads to go to, to spend some time with their kids. It spiralled from there onwards.

“We changed it to Men’s Mental Health to help with all sorts of problems: addiction, anxiety, depression. When we started supporting people who experienced suicide it came into its own. We help men who are at their last point. That’s how serious it got.”

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Men Matter is a peer to peer support group which runs daily activities, where anyone struggling can come along – although the particular focus is on young men from the ages of 17-35.

“Mental health is big, it’s major now,” says George. “I didn’t know much about it until I started. In Glasgow it’s the big tough macho guy, nothing matters to me, not showing their emotions. It’s not the case.

“The age group between 17-35 is the most popular age for guys to take their own life and I think that’s what we need to focus on.

“Young boys are told now that it’s okay to talk about their feelings and that’s great, but it’s men that are a bit older that I think missed out on that teaching.”

The new hub in Drumchapel is fully kitted out, with pool tables, a podcast suite and its own gym, opened by comedian Gary Faulds.

Alongside the weekly activities and football club, the hub has its own ‘talking Sunday’ groups where anyone can drop in and chat to people going through the same experiences. Men just like Gordon.

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“I’ve seen it with my own eyes now, the way that mental health issues and especially suicide can impact life,” he said.

“I have a background myself in it, and I can relate to how people are feeling now because of my own experiences.

“So much of getting people to talk to you is about trust, and knowing someone has gone through the same as you, and they’re sitting down with you, that’s half the battle. It’s about recovery.

“The men running the charity work so hard. It’s like a family group.

“We have a lot of people from all different backgrounds volunteering and helping out.

“The hub is about getting away from the hard stuff in life and speaking to people who are in the same boat as y ou.

“We’re together and that’s what it’s about.”