Northern Ireland football fan Marty Chappell is urging men to be more open about their mental health issues.
The Lisburn man was chosen as the IFA’s Fan of the Month for June for his efforts in helping men, especially within football, to look after their mental health and open up and talk about their problems or worries.
Marty, 31, has lost friends to suicide and battled his own issues in his late teens and early 20s following the death of his father.
He and his friend Robbie Butler produce a mental health podcast, ‘Mind Your Bap’, which is available on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Urging everyone, but particularly men, to speak out and share their problems, he said: “When people see me they think I’m a big lad and maybe I’m pretty tough looking, but I’m not. Hopefully if people see me and see that I can speak up then I’m hoping they will think it’s ok to speak up.
“A lot of men don’t speak up and just bottle stuff in, so the message is just to get people to open up, and men especially.”
This weekend Marty will be supporting local suicide and self-harm prevention charity Emerge by running a free live music event in Lisburn city centre on Saturday.
‘Love Lisburn Live’, headlined by local act Pretty Cartel, will take place in Market Square from 12pm-7pm.
The council-backed event will feature a variety of musical acts, a beer garden and more, and proceeds will be donated to Emerge, which was set up by local woman Samantha Evans in response to an increase in the number of people taking their own lives.
Describing the region’s suicide rates as “shocking”, Marty said Emerge has made a really positive difference since its formation earlier this year.
“From what I have seen, I feel that since Emerge has come in they have made a real impact,” he said. “I want to help them as they are completely funded by themselves and are doing great work.”
• To contact Emerge email firstname.lastname@example.org
• For details about the IFA Foundation’s ‘Ahead of the Game’ mental health awareness project for local football clubs log on to www.irishfa.com