NO matter how much mental health is spoken about there still seems to be a stigma attached to it.

Numerous celebrities have spoken up about their battles with various conditions in the past, including actor Stephen Fry – who has talked candidly about his bipolar disorder.

More recently, Prince William and his brother Harry have opened up about how they each sought therapy and counselling in attempting to come to terms with their mother’s death – 20 years ago next month.

And the issue was brought to the fore again last week with the suicide of rock star Chester Bennington, the lead singer of the group Linkin Park.

Despite these attempts to broaden the debate around the topic it remains a taboo subject though, with people fearful of the negativity associated with it.

The operations manager of mental health charity Newport Mind, Hilary Sloan, says this is particularly the case with men.

“Men tend to meet in groups and use a lot of banter which makes it hard for someone to express their emotion,” she said.

“They mostly meet together to participate in an activity, watch sport or to have a drink. None of these situations make it easy to talk seriously about emotions.”

It is estimated that one in six people experience a mental health problem in the UK every week – with mixed anxiety and depression being the most common disorders.

Newport Mind aims to provide help to those suffering with mental health problems.

It offers a variety of service – including activities such as art, crafts, counselling sessions and self-management courses.

The charity also has a group solely for men, which meets once a month.

It offers participants a chance to build friend-ships, develop communication skills and learn about ways to improve their mental health.

Ms Sloan added: “Many people don’t understand mental health issues.

“If they see somebody with a broken leg or a serious illness, such as cancer, they seem able to relate to it and show empathy.

“But finding out somebody they know is depressed or experiencing anxiety, can make some people feel uncomfortable. They might avoid talking about it or even avoid the friend because they don’t know what to say to them. Men in particular seem to find it difficult to talk to somebody about their mental health.”

She said such situations can lead sufferers turn to drugs or alcohol.

“They might start avoiding situations because they can’t manage their anxiety,” she added.

“This can lead to broken relationships, absenteeism and poor performance at work or college, losing touch with friends, loss of routine and self-care, and failure to manage the home and bills.

“Some people will find it hard to go on, and contemplate suicide.”

Figures from the Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report 2017 say it is men aged 40-44 who are most at risk of suicide.

Georgina Titley, of Rogiet, lost her father to suicide two years ago.

The 28-year-old said she and three sisters had no idea that their dad, Paul, was suffering from mental health problems until his boss raised the alarm following an incident at work.

A police search was launched and Ms Titley was later told her dad had been found dead in a hotel. He was 49 years old.

She said the days and weeks following her father’s death were some of the hardest of her life.

“Every morning you would wake up thinking it was some horrific nightmare but then you would have to go through it all over again,” she said.

“He wrote us all cards saying he knew we wouldn’t understand but he couldn’t take it anymore and that he had been fighting depression for a very long time.”

Miss Titley says she believes the idea that men should be the backbone of families contributes to failings to communicate problems.

She added of her father: “He was only 49, he was born in the 60s and men were brought up to be the strong ones and not to show weakness.

“It was frowned upon to show any form of weakness at all and I think my dad was ashamed that he couldn’t cope with whatever was going on in his head.”

She said she now wants to encourage people to talk about mental health, to stop others going through the same anguish.

“I think people in general need to be educated on mental health so they can become more understanding,” she said.

“It needs to be brought into the curriculum for children at an early age. They need to be taught to talk about their feelings – both good and bad.”

Wayne Ashe lost his son, Sam, to suicide last year. He was just 19.

Mr Ashe said the family were left shocked and devastated by his son’s death.

“Outwardly, he was a very successful young man and he had a very good life. He was a very popular person at school and at work,” he added.

“It was really hard to know that we didn’t know he was suffering. I think to myself ‘Was it more a cry for help? Did he intend on taking his life? Did he know the finality of what he was doing?’ but we will never know.

“It’s something we have to go through every day.”

Mr Ashe has set up a foundation that raises money for those with mental health issues called 19.

“If you can get people to understand its okay to ask for help and continue that education it becomes the norm,” he said.

Ms Sloan said she agrees that more information and education on mental health is needed.

“Suffering in silence causes a lot of distress for people and some will go to great lengths to hide their mental health issues by avoiding certain situations,” she said.

Ms Sloan also said that famous and well-known figures speaking openly about their own mental health is encouraging.

Recently, Pontypool RFC chief executive officer Ben Jeffreys said he was entering rehab to deal with his long-term battle with obsessive compulsive disorder and depression last week.

He said they had debilitated him for his entire adult life.

“I enter rehab with an overriding sense of despondency for how I have somehow enabled these conditions to chip away at my appetite for life at such an overwhelming pace,” he wrote on Twitter.

“When I reflect on how many days I have opted to stay at home in bed rather than spending time with my family and friends, enjoying my hobbies or developing my professional career – I think of all the many potential memories I never created and all the opportunities I have missed.

“I’ve deteriorated from an individual who had dreams and aspirations to a person who, other than Pontypool Rugby Club, has no discernible passion for anything whatsoever.

“I’ve quite simply lost the sensation of happiness, despite always being surrounded by the unconditional love from my wonderful wife and wider family.”

But Mr Jeffreys also said that his battle with mental health is one which he is “determined to win”.

For more information on getting help for your mental health, visit or call 01633 258741.

For more on Mr Ashe’s foundation, 19, which discusses mental health, see

Ms Titley also posts useful links on the memorial page for her father: see