Tee-off and chat encourages Mull men to talk

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Organisers of an event at Craignure Golf Club next month are hoping more men will be encouraged to open up by playing the game and getting the conversation started about mental health.

The group behind Tee-Off and Chat, which takes place on Saturday August 24 from 10am to 4pm, is the island’s Safe and Sound project.

Safe and Sound, an organisation about to celebrate its third anniversary, has already helped more than 50 people since it started and countless others, aged from their 20s to their 90s, who have used its private Facebook page for 24-hour advice and signposting.

Grant Young, the group’s treasurer and secretary, started volunteering after his wife Lorna received help.

Lorna and Grant Young from Mull Safe and Sound.

‘At most of our meetings it’s 99 per cent female and I’m the only man. It’s difficult for men to go into that kind of situation and not to feel weak. It’s a pride thing, but we really want men to know it’s okay to talk. We really want to get more men to come along to our meetings and get rid of this stigma in asking for help,’ said Grant who is Lorna’s carer.

The Tee off and chat is being funded by Acumen and See Me Scotland. Safe and Sound’s main funding comes from the Waterfall Fund, Island Castaways and NHS health and well-being fund.

Members from Oban’s successful Martyn’s Monday Club are also going over to help out on the day.

What started out as a fortnightly meet-up in  Craignure has now grown to have a peer-to-peer group and groups in other villages across the island, including Salen and Bunessan.

‘It can be quite isolating living on an island. People who have neighbours can still be miles away from the nearest house on Mull. We also want to get our message across to farmers and people working in agricultural jobs who might feel they need help but don’t have anyone to turn to.

Safe and Sound also receives support from See Me Scotland and Acumen, and is tapping into Scottish charity RSABI, which offers emotional, practical and financial support to people and their families in farming and crofting communities.

Lorna, 44, who has severe anxiety and a mood disorder, says  Safe and Sound has been ‘a God-send’ for her and thanks to its support she now feels able to share her story. She is also the group’s vice-chairman and fundraising co-ordinator.

‘I used to struggle with fitting in but now I’ve found confidence, I feel secure on the island. It’s changed my life. It has given me that feeling of not being on my own and realising there were other people who felt just as nervous as me,’ she said.

And she added: ‘One of the first trips I went on with Safe and Sound was from Kilchoan to Ardnamurchan Lighthouse. I remember I was shaking with nerves but then I thought, hang on, I know these people, and before I knew it I was having the best of times. I will talk to anyone about myself now, not worrying about being judged and it’s all to do with Safe and Sound.’

Meetings include With You In Mind peer support at Salen Church for a small class every Wednesday from 7-9pm; a core group at An roth, Craignure fortnightly on a Thursday from 2-4pm, Bunessan Hall on the last Friday of every month from 2-4pm, and Glen Losal, Tobermory from 7-9pm on the last Monday of every month.