Mates to set up helpline

YVETTE BATTEN - NORTH TARANAKI MIDWEEK
Last updated 08:58 15/08/2012
ntm-mates
Yvette Batten/Fairfax NZ
Mates founder: Kerry Babbage.

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Mates is about to take its support of men going through a crisis one step further.

Right now it is setting up a 24-hour support line nationwide in which clients are directly linked up with professionals.

The aim is to get Blokesline up and running before the end of the year but to do so Mates needs the support of the community and financial backers.

The date of the launch is dependent on funding and community support, Mates Trust New Zealand spokesman Kerry Babbage, New Plymouth, said.

BDO has already partnered up with Blokesline. More commercial support is welcome.

"What they get out of it is emotional branding."

Mates has run its men's network for about five years. It now has members and groups around the country.

"We're getting a lot of calls from men who don't necessarily follow through and come to the meetings.

"A lot of men who are going through crisis are not used to talking to other men.

"An anonymous service like Blokesline is huge to break that barrier and create that rapport with other men and get them talking," Mr Babbage said

When a man rings Blokesline they speak to another man. These men, who take the calls, will be trained and qualified social workers, councillors and psychologists.

Furthermore, when someone rings they'll be eligible for up to six free counselling sessions.

"The big thing here is that this will be nationwide and we believe this will be the number one suicide prevention in New Zealand."

Relationship breakdowns is one of the biggest things that leads to male suicide in New Zealand.

"The average relationship lasts 10 to 12 years. Two thirds of break-ups are initiated by women now.

"It's a real crisis for the guys because they haven't got the networks or emotional support to handle it."

Not only will Blokesline connect men with the Mates network but it can direct clients to other appropriate services as well.

"What Blokesline is about is linking all the services to men in one phone call. What we're about is working together."

Mates already supports the National Cancer Society initiative of "Get The Tools" and the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand's Movember.

Mr Babbage said about 600 men a year died from cancer and 400 men a year from suicide.

"If a man is given the diagnosis that he's got cancer he is 13 times more likely to commit suicide. It's a huge issue out there what's going on."

Mates also uses the TSB Bank Cancer Support Centre in New Plymouth for its meetings.

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Although the helpline is not yet off the ground there is scope for people to express their interest and volunteer.

"There will be avenue for volunteers not as phone counsellors because they'll be professionally trained. There's certainly things in terms of helping to promote our services and to help with administration."

To find out more about Blokesline, financially support it or promote other men's related services through it email info@matesmensnetwork.com.

- Taranaki

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