Reflecting on a personal loss, Jack Sargeant encourages men to speak out
Jack Sargeant, MS Alyn and Deeside
I’ve always tried to be very open about my own mental health as I think it’s really important to encourage others to speak when they are struggling.
The message ‘it’s ok not to be ok’ is one I want people to take to heart.
This week, in an interview for the BBC, I talked about male suicide and the importance of giving people the space to speak about their struggles. I did so because too many men struggle and too many lose their lives to suicide.
Nearly 18 months ago, my community in Connah’s Quay lost one of its brightest sparks and the nicest person you would ever want to meet, Jamie Wynne. Jamie was one of my oldest and my best friend.
I loved him like a brother, and he was always there for everyone including me after my father passed away.
Jamie never missed a chance to help others was passionate about this community and in particular grassroots football. Since we lost him many of us have tried to do what he always did and help others.
His club Connah’s Quay Town have worked tirelessly to get the message out of speaking to each other. The club launched an initiative to train mental health ambassadors and create a safe space for men to talk.
The club has 4 qualified Well-Being Champions which anyone within the club can contact if they need to talk.
Plus, an email address is available if they can’t speak about it but want to look for help through a different channel. They are looking at organising a memorial game in Jamie’s name later this year.
Not content to just help themselves, they are reaching out to other clubs to explain how they can support each other.
I wanted to follow their lead and speak out as well. I didn’t realise how hard the interview would be – we all miss Jamie so much.
The interview was for BBC Wales Live, and I am particularly grateful to the journalist Zola Hargreaves who before, during and after the interview showed real compassion and understanding.
I will always use my platform to advocate for better mental health support and to encourage men to speak about how they feel.
Be kind to each other and check in on your friends. There is no shame at all in struggling and I openly admit I am, and often do, struggle.
There is a frequently used statistic that 1 in 4 of us struggle with mental health but I think that massively underestimates the problem. Anyone can need support and when they do reach out, clubs like Connah’s Quay Town will be there for them.
Like communities across Wales my community is coming to terms with real loss. Speaking about it and reminding each other that it is ok to be sad is important. So is remembering the happy times and that’s what I want to do, Jamie’s infectious smile and his friendship will live with me forever.
For confidential support, the Samaritans can be contacted for free at any time of the day or night, 365 days a year on 116 123
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