Words by Smiley Team
A not-for-profit online platform is providing a safe and anonymous space for men to talk about their mental health.
'blOKes' aims to provide men over the age of 16 with a supportive, and non-judgemental place to talk about their thoughts and feelings, and tell a #MaleTale.
Creator Tom Home founded blOKes in June 2020 due to his own experiences having been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 2016 whilst at university.
“At the start, I found it very difficult to know who or where to turn to when it came to talking about my mental health, so often I would just bottle it up and suffer in silence," Tom tells Smiley News.
“When I 'took the plunge' and decided to tell my close friends what I was going through, I felt an immense weight lift off my shoulders and it reinforced a feeling that I wasn't alone in the fight.”
Whilst Tom had the support of his friends, he recognised that not everybody has that directly around them.
“I wanted to provide men with a platform that offers a space that validates how they're feeling and reminds them that they're not the only ones experiencing mental illness," he says.
Men aged 16 and over can create a free blOKes account and join the online forum-based community of like minded men all talking about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences of mental health.
The platform allows for the sharing of stories, advice, and guidance, as well as access to mental health resources, webinars, talks, and sessions.
blOKes also works alongside clinical mental health partner Willow Grove Consulting, who ensure that any materials on the platform are medically accurate and safe.
Tom and his team also organise charity events, webinars, seminars, in-person talks, and educational workshops in association with the online space.
“We are fortunate to have a number of fantastic male ambassadors, ranging from Olympians to British Armed Forces personnel, who help us to raise awareness of our platform and the alternative means of support available to men," he adds.
blOKes also runs a student ambassador programme designed to support sixth form and university students who may be struggling with their mental health whilst studying.
Tom has an ambitious plan to place a blOKes student ambassador in every university in the UK by September 2024, and keep growing from there to provide access to as many young men as possible.
“While it's hard to quantify the impact that it's had on men's mental wellbeing, we have received a number of messages and emails from users who have said that the platform and blOKes in general has helped them immensely," he says.
SUPPORT: You can help Tom continue running his platform to support others for free by donating.
SPREAD THE WORLD: Support the blOKes campaign by supporting its #MaleTale hashtag.
If you need to talk to someone about your mental health, call Samaritans on 116 123.