By Jack Sargeant

MS for Alyn and Deeside

Sunday October 10 was World Mental Health Day.

I’ve spoken out before as being one of the 25% of people who experiences mental health problems, but we all have a mental health, and everyone experiences difficult and unpredictable periods in their life.

Last year men accounted for nearly 80% of those who took their own life in Wales, a stark reminder of just how much more work needs to be done to improve the services available to those dealing with poor mental health.

One of the biggest challenges we face is reaching those who are struggling and find it hard to speak out about how they feel because of the stigma associated with discussing our mental health.

We need to find ways of providing men with the support they need in a setting they feel comfortable accessing.

A positive way of achieving this is by bringing people together over a shared passion or interest whether that be sport, music, or hobbies.

I recently met with Huw, one of the founding members of dads group METALIDADS.

Like many people, during the pandemic Huw was suffering from constant low moods and irritability brought on by the pandemic, current affairs and being away from friends and activities.

Huw picked up the phone and called his GP and was diagnosed with depression.

This started a long road to self-discovery and learning to handing his emotions and building a resilience to his diagnosis, and so he wanted to start a network to ensure that other dads don't go through the same thing as he did.

Along with co-founder Ben, METALIDADS aims to form a strong support network and friendship group for new and experienced fathers using the theme of rock & heavy metal music a mutual interest.

To share advice and experiences to help other dads combat the challenges of addressing mental health taboo and personal challenges, quashing societal expectations of paternal responsibilities, supporting a safe environment for their household and for members to grow into a confident and efficient father for their families no matter the situation at home.

This is a fantastic example of how community led support groups can reach people in ways more traditional mental health services cannot.

Bringing people together in a comfortable environment with a shared interest is a great way to get them to be open about their struggles as well as share coping mechanisms.

I’d like to see groups like METALIDADS supported to continue the brilliant work they do, breaking down barriers to accessing help and normalising discussions about our mental health.

You can find resources related to World Mental Health Day on the Mental Health Foundation website.