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College raise awareness for International Men’s Day

Mike Lawrence delivering his workshop to Barnsley College students

Students and staff at @BarnsleyCollege have had the opportunity to attend virtual workshops hosted by a range of guest speakers in order to raise awareness of International Men’s Day on Thursday 19 November.

The virtual speaking sessions featured guests including Tom Dickinson, Mike Lawrence, Peter Wingrove, James Brincat-Smith and Shaun Doane.

Health and Wellbeing Consultant, Mike Lawrence, has over fifteen years’ experience in occupational therapy and corporate coaching. Mike’s session had a primary focus on the wellbeing of men as he discussed statistics about anxiety and depression and culture values as the world becomes ever-evolving particularly in the world of work. Mike encouraged students to focus on the future, treat those around them equally and with respect regardless of their gender, to value others’ opinions and create safe environments for those that they love.

Former Barnsley College student and founder of Tom’s Talks, Tom Dickinson, delivered the second session of the day. Tom began touring schools and businesses as a motivational speaker after losing his brother in 2015 and experiencing low moods and periods of depression.

He decided he would spread the importance of breaking the stigma around mental health illnesses and encouraging people to believe their mental health is just as important as their physical health. Tom delivered an interactive session exploring the coping mechanisms available such as exercise, healthy diets, relaxation therapy and mindfulness.

Tom said: “It’s massively important for students to talk about mental health particularly in and amongst men, because unfortunately, as men we have this stigma where we can’t talk, can’t open up, we can’t cry and we have to ‘man up’! This sadly leads to us bottling up our emotions and, in turn, can have a detrimental effect our mental health.  

“Talking about it and making people, especially men, understand that ‘it is okay not to be okay’ and ‘it’s okay to talk’ will hopefully reduce these frightening figures we have around male mental health and suicide.”

Shaun Doane, lead singer of The Everly Pregnant Brothers, has played at theatres across Sheffield, festivals around the country, has featured on local news channels and was part of Channel 4’s The Last Leg. Shaun explained the many pit-falls of society with regards to looking out for men and their mental health and the importance of bucking the trend with their friends and family.

He spoke to students about the pressure that men can sometimes feel in the family dynamic and how important it is to encourage them to speak openly about their feelings.

Barnsley College’s students have a wealth of health and wellbeing support available to them, including having access to an award-winning Health and Wellbeing Centre, where they can discuss sensitive and personal issues with an on-site counsellor and wellbeing teams.

The College also signed the Association of College’s mental health charter, a charter which emphasises their understanding to create an environment that constantly promotes the wellbeing and mental health of both staff and students.

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