Our Never Mind The Stigma (NMTS) programme will be starting in January 2024 and what better way to launch this, than at Fratton Park, the home of Portsmouth FC on New Year’s Day.
As a charity that is embedded in the local community, we are absolutely delighted that Portsmouth Football Club have agreed that the home game against Stevenage will be themed as Never Mind The Stigma Day. This will help raise awareness of the programme and the football club have been a great support throughout.
The fundamental aim of this project is to support and empower individuals to create a mutually supportive community network. We want to increase awareness of suicide in the local community, provide free and easy access to vital information to reduce stigma; encourage open conversations; offer support for those experiencing suicidal thoughts as well as the people who have been affected by suicide. This will equip those involved with the knowledge and confidence to support others, all of this provides opportunities for people to approach those with concerns that they have. This will save lives because research indicates that most suicides are preventable through the supportive interventions of others.
The idea of the NMTS Programme came about after the local community were devastated by six men from similar friendship group who died by suicide just over 12 months ago. Following the devastating ripple effect of these suicides, Tonic were involved in helping support those closely affected to help create change within the community. As a result of this, we were invited to attend, support and talk at events that were held in memory of those who have ended their lives and are in close contact with their family/friends. This is when we have discussed, designed, planned and created a bespoke programme of support for local men.
As part NMTS, we will have weekly peer support groups called MATE (Men Ain't Talking Enough). These weekly peer support groups will offer a safe place for local men to connect with others and talk about their shared experience. This will reduce isolation, fear, shame, stigma, loneliness and foster hope for the future. When attending our MATE groups on regular basis, you will be able to register for the six-week therapeutic group that will be facilitated by a peer facilitator and a qualified therapist. There will be different themes for the 6-week group that will include self-compassion/self-care; emotional coping skills – mindfulness / distress tolerance / interpersonal effectiveness / emotional regulation; acceptance and commitment therapy.
There will be accredited training available for the peers that attend the weekly peer support group, have attended almost all of the six-week therapeutic group and are ready to take on leadership / facilitator roles within the groups. The training will come in the shape of suicide first aid and mental health first aid to not only help those within the group itself but also to be beacons of the community.
We will then run 12 monthly day long mental health and wellbeing workshops in a range of outdoor activities, such as the beach, forest, activity centres etc. The workshops will enable the men to walk and talk together, eat together and learn together. The workshops will have different themes such as, suicide prevention, emotional resilience, self-compassion etc to teach skills/theory and how our physical resources will aid our learning beyond the workshops.
To quote Alan Ball "this is Portsmouth, people have gone to war from this City'" so let's use that mentality to foster the community spirit that is embedded in Portsmouth, so we can support those men so they don’t feel their only choice to end their pain is by ending their life and sending a devastating ripple effect in their community.