When two of Greg Munro’s friends took their own lives at the end of 2019, the Fifer redoubled his efforts to help other men with their mental health issues.
The two friends – one a work colleague, the other an old friend – inspired Greg to “reset the balance” and do his best to ensure no others had to go through what they did.
Greg, 45, remembers: “You go through all sorts with suicide – there’s anger they’ve done it, there’s pain, trying to work out what happened.
“You think about the anguish they must have been in to have found themselves in that situation.
“I wasn’t in full contact with either of them at the time, but they were at the end of a phone. You wonder if a blether might just have helped them.
“It’s that feeling of helplessness that led me to help at Andy’s Man Club.”
Greg reached out to Andy’s Man Club (AMC) in St Andrews in March last year and has been facilitating sessions ever since, in the hope it will prevent other men from ending up on the same path as his friends.
‘They said it had saved their lives’
The dad-of-two continues: “Since I’ve been helping, I’ve almost physically pulled guys through the door.
“Right away there’s a feeling of support, you just feel like you’re in a good place.
“Two of the guys have told me the club has directly saved their lives. It’s just huge. It’s so emotional.
“I could do this for another 30 years, but helping save those two guys is enough.”
‘I believe in better’
In 2020, almost three quarters of people who died by suicide in Scotland were male, with the highest rate of male suicide occurring in the 35-44 age group.
Furthermore, more than one third of men in Scotland have experienced suicidal thoughts as a result of stress.
Greg says: “Just having somewhere safe to talk is enough sometimes.
“You have guys coming along giving one or two word answers in week one. They’re not sure if they should be here, they’ve maybe been sent along by their doctor.
“But by week two they chat a little more and have eased in.
“I keep saying to the guys ‘I believe in better’. It’s my personal mantra.
“We’re not going to save the world right away, but if you can make a week slightly better for a lad who’s struggling, I think we’re getting somewhere good.”
‘Pressure to be a man’
There is still a stigma associated with men’s mental health, with some feeling as if they can’t talk about their emotions for fear of appearing un-masculine.
But it is often bottling up these feelings that leads men to crisis point.
Greg says: “Men struggling isn’t new, we’re just dealing with it in a different way now.
“There’s this mindset that not only should you not be talking, but you also have to be the head of the family.
“There’s a lot of pressure on guys and I don’t know if they have more ability to deal with that than anyone else. A lot of the guys talk about that pressure to be a man.
“If you’re struggling, come along and talk to us. AMC meetings are two hours long and if it works, this is the place you need to be; if not, it’s only two hours of your life.
“But, the potential is that talking could be the key to the issues you’ve been struggling with.”
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