Two Peterhead men have teamed up to create a support group to encourage men battling mental health issues to speak up.
Sandy Garvock and Aaron Ritchie started Men United in the town almost two weeks ago after discussing the dire need for something to help the town’s men.
With several male suicides over recent months in Peterhead the pair wanted to create a safe space, free from judgement, where people can open up if they are struggling.
Within hours of coming up with the idea they created a Facebook page that had over 840 likes on its first day, reflecting what they saw is local “desperation” for help.
Both Mr Garvock and Mr Ritchie have endured their own mental health struggles and experienced the highs and lows of life.
They said that if by offering a friendly ear to other men it helps just one then they will have done some good.
Mr Ritchie said: “I started suffering from depression when I was in my teens and although I looked for the services to help there wasn’t the right thing for me in Peterhead.
“As I’ve gotten older there has been a growth in the services. I saw that first hand as I faced depression again in 2016 due to work.”
Mr Gavrock said: “For me, helping others with their mental health is something I have been passionate about for years.
“When my son was only six weeks old his grandfather committed suicide. He’s 21 now and still asks questions about him so I’ve seen the lasting impact it can have on a family.
“From the age of 15, I suffered depression.
“Aaron and I have both been bouncers. People just see us as tough guys and expect us to “man up”, so our slogan is “don’t man up, speak up”.”
Men United will be hosting weekly meetings to allow those in need of help to come forward and will also be sign-posting professional help for men who need it.
They have also teamed up with Shirley’s Space and will be taking part in their weekly men’s night on Thursdays from 7-9pm.
Mr Gavrock added: “I want to help others. We had 18 men turn up to our first meeting which was a big step for all of them.
“When we asked with eyes closed who had experienced suicidal thoughts, 14 put up their hands.
“Through my work at Fisherman’s Mission I also know many others needing help who don’t know where to go.
“If we don’t start now then people might do something they regret.
“It’s not about us. We’re not councillors. But we’ve experienced this ourselves and it’s about getting men to speak up so we can help them.”
As well as their Facebook page, Men United can be contacted via their email address firstname.lastname@example.org.