YOUNG men in Dunfermline are providing a space for others to talk thanks to a new initiative called Andy’s Man Club.

Craig Ingles, 24, and Ryan McKillop, 23, who both struggle with mental health illness, have had their lives turned around since joining the club, which offers men a cup of tea and a place to chat once a week.

In a bid to help others, they are now running a club in Dunfermline based at the Erskine Building open every Monday between 7-9pm.

Andy’s Man Club has grown exponentially in the last few years across the UK and is run by unpaid volunteers.

They’re a peer-to-peer support group for men over 18 to help them through life.

Craig, who works for Lloyds Banking Group in Dunfermline, had hit rock bottom several months ago when he first decided to walk through the door of an Andy’s Man Club.

As a young man with depression, he had shut himself off from his loved ones and felt he just could not open up.

“The hardest step is first walking through the door,” he told the Press.

“But we welcome everyone and it’s like a brotherhood.

“I was in a bad place and was diagnosed with depression at the start of the year.

“I lost my dad eight years ago and had just never dealt with it.

“I had reached rock bottom and couldn’t cope with life.

“I would snap at friends and family who were just trying to help me.

“But through the club, I have been able to speak to my mum for the first time and ask questions about my dad.”

Craig added: “I think there’s too much pressure for guys to be the 'man of the house' and you tend to shut yourself off.

“After my first session, I just felt like there was a whole weight lifted off my shoulders.

“My girlfriend, mum, colleagues and friends say that I’m just a totally different person now.

“After the events of the past week in the area, it felt like a kick in the teeth, to be honest.

“This is exactly what we’re trying to stop but I just hope people know that there is a club here for them.”

In the UK, suicide is still the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45.

That’s why Andy’s Man Club wants to provide a meeting place in every town across the country, challenge the stigmas of mental health and to promote suicide prevention.

What you can expect is a cup of tea and a place to sit in a circle. Every man gets a chance to say how they’re doing and five different questions are asked each week to try to steer the conversation.

Anyone with questions is free to pop along before the session starts to speak to Craig or Ryan.

Ryan, who suffers from complex post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder, has been visiting psychiatrists since the age of five.

After being discharged from Carseview Centre in Dundee 20 months ago, he was pointed in the direction of Andy’s Man Club to continue his recovery.

“I’ve been going to psychiatrists all my life really for a number of reasons,” Ryan said.

“I told people what they wanted to hear rather than the truth.

“I used to tell people I was OK but really I wasn’t.

“When I got to a place of living in denial that was when help came.

“At the group, I’ve realised I’m not the only one.

“Professionals have their place, however, the club provides the space to talk on a weekly basis, with people who have been through similar things, which is powerful.

“We had 23 new men on Monday and every single one of them highlighted how much they think the club was going to help them.

“They managed to connect with each other in the space of an hour.

“I feel sorry for the NHS because what they do is great but they are so stretched they just can’t meet with people on a weekly basis.

“I still have my dark days from time to time but this club has literally changed my life and I don’t say this lightly.

“It’s made me see the positives in my life and I’m now able to give back as I continue with my recovery.”

After just four sessions, the club in Dunfermline had grown from 14 people to 36 already.

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