A photo of storytime to children at Uxbridge Library for International Men's Day

Uxbridge Library champions men’s mental health and fatherhood for International Men’s Day

Uxbridge Library in Hillingdon celebrated International Men’s Day with two events promoting men’s mental health and fatherhood, including walk-in talking therapy sessions and a table-top gaming experience.

International Men’s Day recognises and celebrates the positive value men bring to their families and communities, and increases awareness of men’s mental health and well-being.

NHS psychological wellbeing practitioners Muhammed Anwar and Neil Agao oversaw the walk-in talking therapy event, which offered a space for Uxbridge residents to talk about anything relating to their mental health or struggles.

Agao, 25, said: “The aim of the talking therapy event is to raise awareness of men’s mental health and normalise men’s health therapies.

“One of the greatest challenges men face is feeling the need to mask their problems. 

“Many men we speak to tell us that no one would ever know they were going through something.”

Anwar, 24, added: “Brushing these problems aside leads to long-term problems, including higher rates of male suicide.”

This point reflects the theme of this year’s International Mens’ Day being ‘Zero Male Suicide’. 

As well as the talking therapy station, there was also a stall for the charity Orchid, which is dedicated to fighting male cancer. 

Orchid volunteer Trevor Walker, who has been advocating for the charity since 2009, headed the stall and gave leaflets to residents on the symptoms and risk factors of male cancers. 

Orchid volunteer Trevor Walker holding a pamphlet on male cancers at Orchid stand at Uxbridge Library (Photo credit: Hana Rajabally)

Walker, 80, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1998, urged men over 50 to get routinely tested for prostate, testicular and penile cancer.

He emphasised that on average, women go to the doctors five times as often as men, which can have devastating consequences on men’s health.

Walker said: “Out of the 250 men who die each week from prostate cancer, 200 die because they were diagnosed too late. 

“This is why it’s so important to catch it early.”

On the following day, Uxbridge Library held a kids-friendly men’s awareness event involving board games and virtual games, with the intention of celebrating fathers.

Participants had the choice of 30 games, including Connect Four, Jenga and chess as well as the Tovertafel, a magic table which consists of a ceiling mounted projector which projects light games onto an ordinary table that children can interact with using their hands and arms.

Two fathers playing at the Tovertafel at Uxbridge library with their kids (Photo credit: Hana Rajabally)

The four-hour event included two sessions of storytime for young children of books promoting fatherhood and male-gendered figures including grandfathers and uncles. 

Assistant library manager Akbar Ali, 36, said: “We’ve put a lot of planning into this in order to include the whole community in our celebration of International Men’s Day but especially aim it at all male demographics.”

Celebrated on November 19th each year, International Men’s Day was first inaugurated in Trinidad and Tobago in 1999 but was first officially observed in the UK in 2010.

Featured image: Hana Rajabally 

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