#5000colo Day 30: The 12th and 13th Men

Distance travelled: 30.98 miles
Cumulative distance: 596.36 miles
Distance remaining: 4403.64 miles
Percentage complete: 11.97
Villages visited: Spixworth, Frettenham, Buxton, Brampton, Tuttington, Aylsham, Eastgate, Hevingham, Stratton Strawless.

Today I went for a ride with Nick, the co-founder of The 12th Man (and fellow NCFC fan!), to mark World Mental Health Day.

We rode without a fixed route, meandering our way up to Aylsham and back over 30+ miles. It was brilliant to be able to chat with Nick about his work, and understand his motives for setting up The 12th Man.

Although Nick doesn’t suffer with mental health problems himself, he has devoted his life to helping others who do. In his role as a director with The Outsiders, he helps to create campaigns that inspire positive changes in the community; one of these is The 12th Man.

The main premise of the organisation is to raise awareness of men’s mental health. There is still a lot of misunderstanding and ignorance around mental health issues among men especially, and The 12th Man provides training to men involved in traditionally male-dominated occupations and interests.

The organisation is not designed to directly support men with mental health problems, but rather to raise awareness and reduce stigma among men who don’t suffer from – and, in many cases, don’t even recognise – mental illness.

It’s about changing perceptions; trying to reach those people in society who think that depression can be dealt with by simply ‘manning up’, and educating them about the realities of mental illness.

By offering Mental Health First Aid training and partnering with individuals and organisations in specific industry sectors and interest groups, The 12th Man is working tirelessly to break the taboos around male mental health.

I’m immensely proud to be supporting their vital work on my charity ride, and I’m hopeful that in time we can chip away at those deeply ingrained prejudices that see male mental health problems as a sign of weakness, or a lack of masculinity.

It takes a huge amount of strength to speak out and ask for help, and we should do everything we can to support men in feeling able to talk candidly about their feelings, whether to friends and family or to mental health professionals.

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