The Campaign Against Living Miserably
Don't let mental health get you down.
When I experienced panic attacks and depression at university, I didn’t know where to turn to for help. I had no internet (my computer was running windows 3.1 - things were bleak back then). No one seemed to be talking about mental health, so I was convinced that either everyone else was sorted, or it was a taboo subject. Either way, I didn’t much fancy being the crazy one on campus. A friend then introduced me to The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). It’s difficult to articulate just how much they changed my life.
CALM was set up to reduce the suicide rate amongst young men - currently the biggest killer in the UK, yet still one of the least talked about. They’ve got a helpline, a magazine, and a thriving online community. When they formed as a charity in 2006, Tony Wilson recognised their importance and backed their vision. Support now comes from all corners - Zane Lowe, Simon Amstell, David Baddiel...
I didn’t identify with much when I was searching for help. What was out there, seemingly every-fucking-where, was the notion that a ‘real man’ doesn’t shed a tear, and that being silent is a sign of strength. And that’s the point really, men are supposedly not meant to talk about stuff – and that’s where CALM come in. They offer anonymous, practical help (and not just for young men, they will help anyone).
In Merseyside, they have over 10 years experience of working in this field. Since they’ve been running, young male suicides have dropped 55 percent. In short, they are vital. But although things have improved, we’re still in the position where men are afraid to open up, and if men still feel weak for asking for help, we still have a long way to go.
We may think we have moved on with attitudes to gender roles, but deeply entrenched social attitudes remain –being the strong silent man is still seen as a desirable trait, and because of this, young guys are getting mixed messages – they must be strong and successful, but also be sensitive. Men are not expected to feel sad, or ask for help.
So this is what CALM is about, shouting from the rooftops, kickin’ up a storm – giving men a voice. Ultimately, they are addressing the stigma attached to talking about problems. They offer a safe, confidential place where young men can talk about whatever’s on their mind. Guys can get involved, share their experiences, and see that, put simply - it’s ok to talk.
The helpline is open 5pm-midnight on Sat, Sun, Mon and Tues - 0800 585858. It’s free, confidential and anonymous.
To find out more, visit the CALM website (which also has some bloody good features and articles), their Facebook page or get in touch via Twitter. You can also email them directly.