20 March 2017

Bedford Blues rugby fans didn't know what hit them on Friday 17 March when a bunch of ELFT staff showed up at the game wearing appropriately green jackets. Well, it was St Patrick's Day!

The Bedfordshire Wellbeing Service is running a range of campaigns to raise awareness of mental health support for men. Men are less likely to seek help if they feel overwhelmed by their worries, if they feel low or are having difficulty coping. Men who work in rural settings, which much of Bedfordshire is, run a higher risk of suicide or self harm. So targetting a local rugby union match seemed like an ideal place to promote Improving Access to Psychological Therapies. (IAPT)

The team of eight met fans at the turnstiles, in the bar and at the pitch-side to get them to take a finger-touch stress test and talk about how they cope with every day stress. Fans were very forthcoming and took away the stress test cards with the contact details on how to self refer to the Bedfordshire Wellbeing Service.

There were posters in key positions around the ground and the service had a whole page advert in the rugby programme.

◾12.5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders
◾Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women - Health and Social Care Information Centre)
◾Men are more likely to use (and die from) illegal drugs
◾Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women.

◾Only 36% of referrals to IAPTJust over three out of four suicides (76%) are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35 (Reference: ONS)
(Mens Health Forum)

For the rugby fans out there, the score was 17-52 to Northampton Saints (a premiership club) The Trust will be be doing more work in the coming months with the Bedford Blues to promote mental health wellbeing.