Preston women Natasha Smith and Chanel Dann join forces to urge community to come together following death of Longridge Town Captain Jordan Tucker

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term to "man up" is to "demonstrate toughness or courage when faced with a difficult situation"  - two Lancashire women are on a mission to change this mindset by encouraging men struggling with their mental health that it's okay not to be okay.

By Emma Downey
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 4:33 pm
Tasha Smith and Chanel Dunn.
Tasha Smith and Chanel Dunn.

On Sunday, December 19, Natasha Smith, 32, and Chanel Dann, 24 will carry out a sponsored walk at 10am from Preston - Lytham Windmill, which everyone is invited to attend, to highlight and raise funds for men's mental health which will go towards local services and to a group of men from Preston.

Only this week Natasha's brother Morgan lost his friend 27-year-old former Longridge Town Captain Jordan Tucker to suicide.

A former pupil of Corpus Christi Catholic College in Fulwood he lived near Ribbleton and was described as a "great player and more importantly a great lad."

Tasha and Chanel with Nicki Kirby.

Explaining her reasons behind wanting to highlight the growing problem of male suicides Chanel, who is currently studying Social Work at university, lost her good friend Marvin to suicide in 2019 and feels more needs to be done to raise awareness of the issue.

"The loss of Marvin raised many emotions for me as it was obvious how well men can hide their true feelings. From that day I knew something needed to be done and changes needed to be made.

"Over recent years I've lost male friends and my friends have lost friends due to mental health."

Having also suffered with mental health issues before having her daughter five years ago and explaining that she still suffers with anxiety which impacts her every day life, Chanel added: "I've struggled to accept that they've hid so many emotions and were unable to speak out, whilst also breaking my heart to watch my close friends - especially my male friends, suffer such heartache due to their losses and not being able to do anything."

She added that due to pressures in society and how men are 'programmed' to behave it was much harder for them than women to speak out when something is bothering them.

"I believe as a community we can make changes. I believe we have the ability to come together and support each other, whilst giving others a safe place to speak out.

"If we don't do something about it now who will?

"I'm aware that I am limited to the changes I can make on my own. Therefore I'd like to reach out to the further community to come together and work together to ensure a better, more positive community for all."

Echoing her sentiments, dental nurse Natasha aka Tasha, who is currently on maternity leave, said she has sadly also had first hand experience with male suicide: "My brother Morgan's friend Jordan Tucker, 27, a childhood friend of mine and a lad I knew from college all lost their lives because they were too afraid to speak up, instead suppressing their feelings until one day it all got too much."

She has also suffered with her mental health and has credited cosmetic behavioural therapy as a coping mechanism.

Offering up advice to anyone struggling she continued: "Sometimes men can relate to other men better rather than a professional. It's okay to not be okay. Please don't bottle it up."

With their fundraising the ladies want to aid Nicki Kirby, 33 who has set up a GoFundMe page to help him gain a 16-seater van to take men out and about instead of the usual drink fueled nights out and Rickeem Jones who has set up an organisation called Achievable Ways of Living which helps navigate young people through every day life. He has also written a book entitled Thoughts on a Page.

The ladies also want to hold an event with a raffle to raise £1,000 for male support groups in Preston by getting small business involved.

The GoFundMe currently stands at £155. To make a contribution click HERE or to help contribute towards the bus click HEREIn England approximately 75 percent of suicides are men, with the age group of 45-49 being the highest. If you or anyone you know is struggling contact Samaritans free of charge on:116 123.