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Bristol film-maker produces powerful documentary on male mental health after childhood best friend took his life

A Bristol film-maker has produced a documentary to raise awareness of male mental health, after his best friend took his life. Credit: ITV West Country

A Bristol film-maker has produced a documentary to raise awareness of male mental health after his best friend took his life at the age of 38.

Ben Akers is on a mission to encourage men to talk about mental health and hopes that his film, due to be premiered next year, will spark a conversation and save mens' lives.

The documentary, titled 'Steve', hopes to encourage other men to talk about their mental health struggles and seek help earlier. Credit: ITV West Country

It's the biggest killer of men under 45. The more we talk about that and the more we make people aware, then hopefully we can stop men doing this.

– Ben Akers

In the UK men are three times more likely than women to take their own lives, according to the charity Samaritans.

In the West Country last year, 510 people took their lives. Nearly three quarters of those were men.

510
Number of people that took their lives in the West Country last year. Source: ONS
372
Number of men who took their lives in the West Country last year. Source: ONS

Ben has spent the last year filming and producing the documentary alongside his wife, Claire.

They want to screen the film in pubs across the UK so that men watch it and talk about their own experiences.

Ben has spent most of the process working at home, using a wall of post-it notes to log his ideas. Credit: ITV West Country

Since just even making this film we've now had 22 men say to us that just by the process of making it, by knowing that this thing exists, by the noise that's being made about it, they've gone and found help.

– Ben Akers
Blue O'Connor, a Bristol entrepeneur, has contributed to the documentary after experiencing his own mental health challenges. Credit: ITV West Country

Blue O'Connor, also from Bristol, has contributed to the film.

After experiencing his own mental health challenges, Blue has launched a men's grooming business to raise money for mental health charities.

Ben will premiere the film in pubs across the UK next year. Credit: ITV West Country

Ben has been fundraising to produce the film and has just reached the halfway target, raising more than £3,500.

To donate to the film and watch the full trailer, click here.

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If you are struggling, or know someone who is, there are several organisations that can provide help and support: