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Over 4 Million Working-Class Men Are Suffering In Silence

By David Saunders, Health Editor | UPDATED: 07:42, 05 December 2019

OVER 4 MILLION working class-men are suffering in silence with their mental health, new research reveals today. For the first time, the huge barriers that exist in tackling mental health problems among working class men in the UK have been analysed – with a potential new solution using the power of sport also identified.

The report published by Public First and commissioned by Kindred Group centres upon new research of 4,000 UK adults – one of the largest of its kind ever undertaken – and shows that 4.34 million (28%) working-class (C2DE) men have suffered the symptoms of a mental health issue that they thought might require treatment in the last 12 months but decided not to seek medical help. And with awareness of the symptoms lower among working class men (54% aware of the symptoms, compared to 66% of the rest of UK adults), the challenge is apparent.

Mental ill health is estimated to cost the UK economy somewhere in the region of £70bn – £100bn a year, so the benefits of solving the challenge are clear.

The new survey revealed that 1.7 million (11%) working-class men had to take some time off work, 2.3 million (15%) found it difficult to focus and 1.2 million (8%) lost or changed their job through experiencing symptoms of mental ill-health. The new report also reveals that:

  • A 2% decrease in depression rates could be worth up to £150 million to the economy.

  • It could equally reduce the number of sick days by 300,000.

  • The cost benefit to businesses directly would be £22.5 million.

Neil Banbury, UK General Manager at Kindred Group, said: “The findings in this report are stark, and provide us all with a reminder that the issue of mental health in the UK is an enormous challenge that needs solving.

Suffering from a mental health issue is not a weakness and that narrative needs to change so that those suffering in silence and not currently getting the help they need have better opportunities to access support.

This report shows there is a new way forward – by working together as sponsors, football clubs and wider health services we have a huge opportunity to change things for the better using the power of sport and football.”

The research also highlighted a potential way to reach this group. The study found that working-class men are considerably more likely to follow sports than other social groups, and football in particular. They are also much more likely to consider sport to be an important part of their lives and the local community.

With the report highlighting how men are reluctant to access mental health services because of perceived stigma and the notion that asking for help is ‘unmanly’, a new way forward exists using the power of sport and football.

Three in five (61%) working class men identify as fans of specific sports teams, compared to 49% of everyone else. And 40% of working-class men are football fans of a specific team and consider their team to be important in their lives, compared to just 29% of everyone else.

By utilising this passion and interest through schemes like Derby County Community Trust’s Team Talk initiative – that allows men to meet on their own terms using the football club’s brand to engage them in a way that traditional mental health services do not – there are real signs of a potential solution.

The report exclusively reveals the initial results of the Team Talk scheme in Derby – with 74% of participants showing a positive increase in their mental health, 74% increasing their physical activity levels, and 85% showing a positive increase in general well-being.

Banbury continued: “There are clear signs that using sport and football can act as an effective way to engage working class men and address mild mental health issues. Sponsors and clubs are in a unique position to reach working class men – who are more likely to be football fans – using the power of football.

Businesses with sustainability at their heart have an important role to play in that, which is why we invested in Derby County’s Team Talk scheme. We support the football industry through our sponsorship, and we are clear in our continued ambition to make sponsorship truly benefit the whole community of a football club – tackling important issues like men’s mental health in an effective way.”

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