“I’m only here today because my friends stopped me from doing something stupid.”

“Hi, I’m Alex, I’m a third year Politics student at Cardiff University. I got involved in the project over the summer as mental health became a really big part of my life in my second year at university, and I wanted to make sure that other people didn’t feel the way that I did, in that I felt very afraid and trapped and afraid to tell people how I felt. I thought that they might pass heavy judgement on me because of the ideas surrounding being a bloke, the idea that you’re meant to be big, strong, tough, boys don’t cry, that sort of thing.

“But for me, keeping my problems and struggles to myself was one of the worst things I ever did. I struggled so much in my second year with issues dealing with identity surrounding my coming out as bisexual, dealing with stress issues that caused anxiety, and the more I kept them to myself the more I lost control, and one day it resulted in me spiralling and trying to take my own life.

“I’m only here today because my friends helped me down and stopped me from doing something stupid, and once I started people how I felt, and how I was feeling, I felt that the entire weight of the world had come off my shoulders rather than being on me.

“So I got involved in the project so that I could make sure that as many people as possible could get the help that they need, and feel like they can open up to anyone and everyone because once I did I felt so much better. I felt that people cared for me, that people were there to support me rather than me being secondary to everyone’s lives.

“I think that the project needs more and more people to get involved with it. We’re here to help men realise that they can talk about their feelings, and they should talk about their feelings because it’s a natural part of life, you can’t keep your feelings to yourself because you will spiral and you will have a crisis, and it’s at that point that you realise that people do love you, people do care about you and that you were wrong to keep it to yourself.

“I think one of the other most important things is that we can’t do things like this without the support of people playing the National Lottery. The funding that we’ve got has been absolutely incredible. I’ve worked on a similar project over the summer which has looked at tackling similar issues within sports teams and that’s proved to be massively successful as well so I just want to say thank you to everyone who’s given their support whether indirect or direct.”

Speaking up about mental health is a STRENGTH, NOT a weakness. In conjunction with International Men’s Day, Cardiff University Students’ Union are launching the #AlrightMate? campaign. The campaign is their response to the alarmingly high rate of male suicide in the UK, which is the biggest killer of men under 45. They want to help put an end to these eye-opening statistics and break the stigma of talking about mental health.

Across the week of 19th of November, they will be hosting a number of events to bring people together to talk. They want to encourage every Cardiff University student to speak up about mental health, ask your friends how they are feeling, let them know you care.

Cardiff University Students’ Union received £9,600 of National Lottery money to train six staff members, who deal with students who may be in crisis, to deliver a ‘Suicide Prevention Skills for University Students’ programme to the student body. The National Lottery Community Fund spoke to Cardiff University students to talk about their experiences as part of International Men’s Day.

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