“If you think your mate’s on the ropes, step in and be the corner man they need. Take it from me, it can make all the difference.” – Frank Bruno

Former world heavyweight boxing champion, Frank Bruno, is calling on men to ‘step in’ if their mate’s acting differently after a major survey into men and mental health[1] shows that most men would be comfortable supporting a friend with a mental health problem – but there are still barriers for some.

The UK-wide research has been released by Time to Change, the campaign run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness to change public attitudes towards mental health. It backs up research behind Time to Change’s newly launched ‘In Your Corner’ campaign, which asks men to be more open and supportive of their friends when it comes to mental health. Encouragingly, results from the national survey of over 3,000 men in the UK found that 86% would feel comfortable supporting a friend who has a mental health problem.

The research also highlighted that men who wouldn’t feel comfortable supporting a friend who has a mental health problem hold these common beliefs:

  • I wouldn’t know how to support them (58%)
  • I don’t know anything or much about mental health so wouldn’t be much help (34%)
  • I’d probably say the wrong thing and make it worse (34%)

In Your Corner is seeking to address these barriers by urging men to put mental health on their radar and not to wait for permission before they step in.

In Your Corner highlights the fact that anyone can support a friend with a mental health problem - you don’t have to be an expert. There are three steps everyone can take if they think a friend is struggling:

  1. Text, call, reach out to your mate
  2. Ask how they are, listen without judging
  3. Be yourself, do everyday things

Former professional boxer, Frank Bruno MBE has backed Time to Change’s In Your Corner campaign. Frank, who has bipolar disorder, will be launching his book ‘Let Me Be Frank’ later this month. He said: “I’m backing the In Your Corner campaign because too many people are suffering in silence. This has to change. I know from my own experience that mental illness can ruin lives. It almost destroyed mine.

“Mental health problems can affect anyone at any time so if you think your mate’s on the ropes, step in and be the corner man they need. Take it from me, it can make all the difference.”

Faris Khalifa (29) from Liverpool has depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. He said: “It can take a lot for someone to open up about their mental health, especially because it’s still a taboo topic. When a friend reaches out and asks you how you’re really doing – it can be a huge relief. My biggest piece of advice? Look out for those subtle changes in behaviour and be proactive about stepping in before the situation gets more serious. 

“My mate Nick has always been the same and never makes me feel like I’m less for having feelings. Friends like Nick made me realise that relationships aren't just forged for the good times, but the bad times too. Real friends stick around for both. People who have seen you at your worst and chose to be there for you are people you should never let go of.”

Sue Baker OBE, Director of Time to Change, said: “It’s encouraging to see that most men do feel comfortable supporting a friend with a mental health problem. We know that men want to be there for each other but when it comes to mental health, many are still wary of acting on their concerns. This is why it's great to have heroes like Frank throwing their weight behind our campaign to improve attitudes towards mental health. We need men to see that looking out for each other’s mental health is part of being a good mate. Doing this would mean fewer men facing mental health problems alone, sometimes with devastating consequences. That’s why we have launched our In Your Corner campaign – if a friend’s acting differently, step in, find out why and be there to support.” 

Time to Change launched ‘In Your Corner’ in February to encourage men to be more open and supportive of friends, family and colleagues with a mental health problem. The campaign will run for five years but in the first month alone 18.5 million people had seen the launch film. 1 in 3 men who saw the campaign film either did something to help a mate or said they were planning to.

As well as taking steps to be there for a friend, everyone is being encouraged to share the new film. To find out more information about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit: www.time-to-change.org.uk/inyourcorner

Notes to Editor:

For more information please contact Emma Warren, Senior Media Officer at Time to Change at e.warren@time-to-change.org.uk or call 075 8400 3703.

* For access to a range of free images to accompany mental health news stories please visit: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/getthepicture.

Time to Change
Time to Change is a growing movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health problems. Our voice is stronger and louder thanks to funding by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund. Our campaign is run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and thousands more organisations have joined us to make change happen.

For more information go to www.time-to-change.org.uk.

[1] Censuswide survey of 3,022 adult men. Fieldwork undertaken in 2017. 

For signed copies of the new Frank Bruno book please go to https://www.frankbruno.co.uk/product/let-me-be-frank-2017-book-pre-order/