By Kris Jepson
Men in the North East have opened up about their mental health issues to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.
As part of ITV's new mental wellness campaign, which was launched by Ant and Dec during Saturday's Britain's Got Talent, ITV News Tyne Tees has spoken to some men in the region to discover how they are dealing with their mental wellbeing.
Watch @krisjepson's report here:
Seventy-three-year-old Ernest Malt, known as 'Ernie', has lived with mental health issues since he was medically discharged from the Navy due to a brain haemorrhage.
He told ITV News his depression got so bad, he contemplated taking his own life.
Ernie Malt sought help from a charity called Mental Health North East and soon became a volunteer for the group.
After he overcame his own mental health issues, he independently set up a dementia friendly cafe and a sensory garden in his home village of Evenwood, County Durham.
He said working in the garden gets him outside and into the fresh air, gives him purpose and is therapeutic.
In September the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published new figures which suggested the suicide rate nationally had increased by nearly 12 per cent since 2017.
The North East had the highest male suicide rate in England and Wales.
- 20.4 North East male suicides per 100,000
- 19 Yorkshire & Humber male suicides per 100,000
- 16.2 Average male suicides in England & Wales per 100,000
A recently formed group called ManHealth told ITV News it is now supporting more than 100 men a week in 10 areas of the North East over their mental health.
The peer support group offers sessions discussing all elements of mental health each week, which enables the men who attend to learn about their conditions, make friends and socialise with like-minded men.
One of the first members of the group was Tom Watson, from Darlington. He has loved with mental health issues and depression since his childhood.
He said the sessions have helped him improve his mental wellbeing along with the physical activities and challenges the group organises too,