THE coronavirus lockdown, and instructions on social distancing and self-isolation, have exacerbated pre-existing mental health issues for many people, according to the founder of a Helensburgh mental health initiative.

Males Tales, a Helensburgh group which offers a listening ear to men in the area, has switched to online sessions and members are still getting benefit from the weekly web meetings.

Founder John Lewis says anyone in need of help should be making the most of the local support network.

He said: “The most common thing we have all done is to make some sort of daily plan, nothing too structured, but a rough guideline of how each weekday should pan out i.e. breakfast, clean, exercise, lunch, work/education, dinner.

And try to stick to it during the week with weekends off.

READ MORE: New 'Males Tales' mental health service opens its doors in Helensburgh

“Obviously this will differ from household to household depending on children or the number of people in the house, but we’ve found a plan has helped a lot of the men focus on tasks rather than sitting around, which naturally allows the mind to wander."

The Advertiser contacted John following our conversation with Helensburgh man Jordan-Cayden Hamlin about his 15-month fight to get himself back into a good place after the 22-year-old tried to take his own life in January 2019.

And while Jordan's story pre-dated the coronavirus pandemic by more than a year, John says it's important to recognise the effect that the current lockdown is having on people's mental health.

“If you’re able to, keep talking to family and friends," John continued.

"Let them know how you’re coping. I still believe talking about mental health is the biggest ally we have against it.

“If you can, utilise services such as FaceTime, Skype or Zoom. But if you can’t just pick up the phone, there are plenty of groups locally and nationally for people to contact.

READ MORE: Jordan opens up about his attempt on his own life – and his 15-month journey to a 'good place'

“We are available for anyone to message or contact at anytime via our Facebook page or email at

There is also Jean’s Bothy, a local mental health hub who are also currently working online and do amazing work.

“SOS Fitness on the front have an online station that provides workouts, dietary advice, and mental health talks and there is also FEAR, an online page for teenagers suffering with their mental health.”

“But most of all, remember that you are not alone, there is help there, do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help. And if you are coping well, then phone around your family and friends and make sure they are coping.”

Meanwhile, the Argyll and Bute health and social care partnership (HSCP) says that help for those affected by, or contemplating, suicide is only ever a phone call away.

The HSCP works closely with national and local health and social care services to prevent suicide and support those affected by suicide.

READ MORE: Most Argyll and Bute suicide victims never called NHS for help, report reveals

A spokesperson for the partnership said: "Suicide is preventable. You are not alone and you can get help now.”

If you are feeling suicidal then here are some of the avenues open to you to get help:

Talk to someone - talking to a family member, friend or colleague can bring huge relief

Talk to a helpful advisor – by phoning in complete confidence a helpline such as Samaritans on 116 123 (open 24 hrs), Breathing Space on 0800 838587 (opening hours, weekdays: Monday-Thursday 6pm to 2am, weekend: Friday 6pm-Monday 6am) and young people can call Childline on 0800 1111. These services also provide online support which you can access by going to their websites.

Talk to your doctor – if you are going through a longer period of feeling low or suicidal. If your GP practice is closed and it can’t wait, call NHS 24 on 111

Talk to your mental healthcare team – where a psychiatrist, psychologist or community psychiatric nurse will be available

Contact emergency services. Don’t think you can wait for help? If so, call 999 right now.

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