We need to talk about men’s mental health: ‘Alright Mate?’ Makes it’s debut at Art Week Exeter

Coinciding with the end of Mental health awareness week and the start of Art week ExeterHugh McCann and Cally Haye’s Alright Mate? is a visual and audio installation exploring men’s mental health. Exhibiting in Exeter’s unique, visionary Barbershop and co-work space; The Roots Foundation until 23rd June. Alright Mate tackles the stigma around men and depression.

Here are some statistics on male suicide rates in the UK (note that they don’t touch on the bigger picture of men living with mental health issues on a daily basis):

Male suicide rate consistently remains higher than the female rate across the UK and Republic of Ireland (The Samaritans)

Suicide is the most common cause of death for men age 20-49 in England and Wales (The Mental Health Foundation)

As a woman who has experienced an episode of severe mental health, I was lucky to have been treated with nothing other than understanding, sympathy and support. People helped me, I was able to express my unwellness. I was hugged and loved. So why is it so different for men? Why do men find it so hard to share their feelings, to express themselves?  Why is there stigma, a fear of saying; “mate, my life is a bit shit and I’m struggling” – why aren’t men seeking help?

A multi-sensory assault Alright mate? delves into the male psyche with sound and vision. The amazing stark photographs and candid audio reflects the seriousness of the issue, this, is juxtaposed with the beauty of vulnerability and honesty in both images and the stories.

Bringing together the talents of artist Hugh McCann, playwright, mental health specialist Cally Haye (Documental Theatre) and web plate photographer Steph Raff. Alright Mate? is not just great art, it is important. It tackles taboo and stigma with such a powerful punch that it is impossible not to take the experience home with you, it makes you want to check in with male friends and relatives .

As a mother of a son (albeit he is only 4) Alright mate? has reaffirmed to me the importance of helping him to explore his feelings and to never allow anyone to tell him that ‘boys don’t cry’.

Alright Mate can be seen at The Roots Foundation, 6 New Bridge Street EX4 3JW Monday to Saturday until 23rd June.

More information: Hugh McCann, The Roots FoundationDocumental Theatre.

About the author: Hailing from Brighton originally, Amelie Foster grew up in Exeter and embraces the city life especially it’s indie culture. Amelie worked as a youth worker and currently runs a help group for Mums who have suffered PND, she is colourful, creative, compassionate and is very active in the local community.

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