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Mental health trust to be the first in the UK to roll out groundbreaking men’s initiative

Roger Kingerlee. Photo: NSFT

Roger Kingerlee. Photo: NSFT

NSFT

Men who are facing mental health difficulties such as PTSD will soon be able to take part in an innovative form of therapy as the international expert who developed the initiative visits the UK to share his knowledge with local mental health staff.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) will be hosting Professor Marvin Westwood from next week (June 23) as he visits staff to discuss the way he has used theatrical production and reenactment to help Canadian veterans with PTSD manage their condition.

The trust will then be the first to roll out the initiative in the UK, which involves working with groups of men to reenact the traumatic events which have caused their mental ill health in order to understand how it is affecting their feelings, reactions and psychological wellbeing, as well as their social and physical health.

The project has previously received support from Prince Harry when it was presented to him by Prof Westwood and his team from the University of British Columbia, in Canada, when they visited the Canadian High Commission, in London.

During his week-long visit, eight NSFT therapists and people from partner organisations - including Men’s Shed - will be trained to deliver the performance reenactment method. The initiative will then be rolled out to help local men, including veterans, from the autumn.

As well as being part of a suite of services aimed specifically at veterans which the trust has developed, this is all part of the trust’s increased focus on men’s mental health, encouraging more men to come forward and ask for help with mental health issues.

Dr Roger Kingerlee, senior clinical psychologist with NSFT invited Prof Westwood to Norfolk after meeting him at the University College London’s Male Psychologies conference last year.

Dr Kingerlee said: “We’re delighted that we have become the first trust in the UK to learn from our colleagues in Canada with the aim of introducing this fantastic initiative in Norfolk later this year.

“The programme gives men the chance to re-enact traumatic episodes, which helps to process emotions while managing symptoms of traumatic stress throughout their lives, in turn helping to further improve the support we are able to provide.

“Men can sometimes find it very difficult to ask for help. However, evidence from Canada shows that this programme is helping to break down those barriers. Outcome data has shown that it has had a continued positive impact on the wellbeing of those who have taken part for up to 18 months after the intervention.”

Prof Westwood, a counselling psychologist, said: “Such approaches, in which men help men, can enable people to ‘drop their own baggage’ which can particularly accrue from traumatic events such as operational stress injuries in military personnel.”

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