Mental Health Awareness Week: St Neots man opens up about his depression and the stigma for men

Jamie's story is part of a three-part ITV News Anglia series focused on people living with mental health conditions, to mark Mental Health Awareness Week


Mental health helplines

Mental health helplines

  • Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org

  • Papyrus offers support for children and young people under the age of 35 over the phone on 0800 068 41 41 between 9am and midnight every day of the year. If you would rather text you can do so on 07786 209697 or send an email to pat@papyrus-uk.org

  • Mind also offers mental health support between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. You can call them on 0300 123 3393 or text them on 86463. There is also lots of information available on their website.

Jamie Archer has suffered from anxiety and depression his whole life and in 2017 was seconds away from taking his own life.

The 39-year-old from St Neots, said he felt alone and isolated after coming a single dad but didn't tell anyone as he felt ashamed because he was a man.

"I didn't know what depression was, but I knew I didn't want to be here any more," he said.

"I felt ashamed, because I was a man, and men don't get depression. Men don't talk about their mental health."

18-year-old Jamie in the Army.

Jamie then spent years on and off anti-depressant medication to help with the illness but said that every time he stopped taking the medication he would relapse.

"I got put on medication, then took more medication and started to feel better than stupidly thought mental illness was like an infection. And then just for a while, I thought 'I'm cured now'."

According to the charity MIND, around one in five adults experiences depression and suicidal thoughts in their life - with men three times more likely to take their own life than women.

Jamie, who works as a construction manager, said he felt that he could not open up because he was a man.

"It was very much 'man up, get on with it, you're a dad, you work on a construction site'.

"You almost feel ashamed because you can't get over it," he said.

In 2017 Jamie's depression got so intense he was seconds away from taking his own life.

"I was consumed by thoughts of wanting to die 24 hours a day," he said.

It was the thought of his two children that stopped him, and he decided to get help for his depression. He now hopes his story will inspire others to talk.

"In the same way as if I had a physical illness, I need to treat a mental illness the same and talk about it," he said.

"For the first time in five years, I actually feel really settled and really happy with life."

Jamie now spends time talking to guests on his podcast R U OK M8 about their experiences with mental health. He also delivers talks to football clubs around the country to encourage men to speak up.

"On the days that you're feeling down, and that you're feeling bad... It's not only all right, but those days won't last.

"I've been there so many times. And I've come out the other side. If I can do it, anyone can."


Who to contact if you or someone you know needs help:

  • Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org

  • Papyrus offers support for children and young people under the age of 35 over the phone on 0800 068 41 41 between 9am and midnight every day of the year. If you would rather text you can do so on 07786 209697 or send an email to pat@papyrus-uk.org

  • Mind also offers mental health support between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. You can call them on 0300 123 3393 or text them on 86463. There is also lots of information available on their website.