AN EAST Lothian charity worker is urging men to open up about their struggles as Men’s Mental Health Week approaches.

John Rendall, 61, from Tranent, men’s group worker at Changes community health project in Musselburgh, is sharing his story in a bid to encourage others to reach out for help.

The charity, which is based on Market Street, also highlighted that there was “still a lot of work to do” to remove the stigma men faced in accessing support for their mental health.

In the run-up to Men’s Mental Health Week, from June 14 to 21, Mr Rendall decided to share his story of how far he had come from “grief, loss, stress, blame and guilt” to supporting other men by encouraging them to open up.

After life-changing events, Mr Rendall said he sought help.

He said: “Fourteen years ago, my life was turned upside down.

“I lost my wife Elizabeth to stomach cancer. Liz lived without a stomach for three-and-a-half years. We have three children and it is hard to put into words how overwhelming this was for myself and my family.

“Shortly before losing Liz, my mother-in-law passed away. She had lived with motor neurone disease for years, which was terrible to witness.

“After losing Liz, I lost a friend who was also my employer at the time.”

Mr Rendall said he became “more and more overwhelmed” and, throughout all of this, was holding down a stressful full-time job.

He said: “After all the life events and so much loss, I was burnt out. My confidence was at an all-time low. I had low self-esteem, I felt weak and worthless. I was playing the ‘blame game’, feeling guilty for not being stronger. I was constantly criticising myself.”

He spoke about the “fear and stigma” he experienced before asking for help. He said he was not used to talking about his feelings and was afraid that, by admitting he was not coping, he might lose his job and his family.

Eventually, he sought help from his doctor. As well as being prescribed antidepressants, he was given Changes’ telephone number.

Mr Rendall said: “When I phoned Changes, I immediately felt a warmth of understanding, compassion and support. This is when I really started to open up about my challenges and all the loss in my life.

“With Changes’ help, I have developed resilience.”

Through the charity, he attended counselling, its men’s group and First Steps course.

Before long, he took on a volunteer role, co-facilitating courses and supporting the men’s group.

He believes that volunteering played a major part in improving his mental health.

Now a member of Changes’ staff team, as a peer worker he runs weekly men’s peer group sessions, as well as providing initial telephone support calls, offered to everyone who goes to Changes.

Mr Rendall said: “We all have mental health from birth to death. There is no need to be ashamed of that.

“If you need help, then you need help. Changes men’s peer groups are ready and waiting to offer support.”

To access support from Changes, call 0131 653 3977 or email

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