MOVING back into tiered restrictions on Covid-19 could be an “unpleasant change” for some people, the founder of a mental health support group founder has warned.

John Lewis, who established the Males Tales sessions in Helensburgh in November 2019, gave the prediction amid growing speculation on when Scotland might move out of the blanket lockdown currently in place across the country.

Argyll and Bute Council’s Helensburgh and Lomond community planning Group (CPG) also heard of the success of the group in its opening 15 months.

Mr Lewis set up the service to give men the chance to talk about mental health issues, and has seen it go from strength to strength.

The group is currently meeting via Zoom due to lockdown restrictions, but has special dispensation from the Scottish Government to meet at Helensburgh’s Drumfork Centre when the rules are relaxed.

READ MORE: 'Mental health impact of pandemic could be generational' says Helensburgh group's founder

A special socially-distanced session was held at the centre on December 25  – the day before the current tough restrictions took effect – for those who were finding Christmas Day particuarly hard.

Mr Lewis said: “In the 15 months we have been running, over 60 men between the ages of 16 and 68 have walked through our doors. In a town which does not have a massive population, that shows it is a service that is needed.

“One thing that comes up at many mental health groups at the moment is that we have all been locked down.

“The one constant in life is change, and the change cycle is that you can be happy in your life, then something changes and you get unhappy.

“Right now a lot people are happy being indoors and not being with other people. They reckon there will be massive long-lasting effects.

READ MORE: 'You are not alone': Males Tales group reaches out to those in need on Christmas Day

“People don’t want to socialise again, or go into shops again. They are not quite agoraphobic but it is a big step.

“In three, six or nine months’ time, people will be getting on with their lives but others will be in the same situation.”

He added: “We offer group peer support and a buddy system, where somebody will phone or, when possible, go round and meet somebody.

“Through lockdown, we have averaged about 10 to 12 males online. Once we are in tier four, or below, I have a letter that allows us to carry out face-to-face meetings as we are an intervention group.

“We had eight people turn up on Christmas Day and have just launched a website at

READ MORE: New website launched for men's mental health support group in Helensburgh

“We are also in very early discussions with the submarine service to be part of a new service to support submariners and servicemen in the area.”

Lomond North SNP Councillor Iain S Paterson said: “It has been long overdue to have this service to deal with males and their mental health issues.

“I have worked with organisations in the past where people have kept things to themselves and the consequences of that can be quite severe.”

Councillor Paterson then asked for further information on the age range, with Mr Lewis responding: “It is mostly middle-aged men, aged between 30 and mid-40s.

“It doesn’t matter your background or story. Guys have come through with the same background and family, but have reacted totally differently.”

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