Ben Bradley column: I’ll always fight for more of a focus on men’s mental health

Coun Ben Bradley, Mansfield MP and leader of Nottinghamshire County Council. Picture by Tracey Whitefoot.Coun Ben Bradley, Mansfield MP and leader of Nottinghamshire County Council. Picture by Tracey Whitefoot.
Coun Ben Bradley, Mansfield MP and leader of Nottinghamshire County Council. Picture by Tracey Whitefoot.
​It was a pleasure to meet Danny Dyer in Mansfield last year to take part in his documentary How To Be A Man, and I’m pleased to say the documentary is now available to watch on Channel 4 on demand.

​Those who have followed me in Parliament will know I've been amongst the strongest advocates for supporting young lads from working class communities like ours, who typically have the lowest levels of attainment and social mobility of all social groups.

It's not an issue that's 'popular' but, here in the real world, almost everyone in Mansfield is affected by it, often with tragic outcomes like severe mental health issues or young men taking their own lives.

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That's why I was really pleased to be asked to talk about this, and that Danny and Channel 4 are giving a platform to this issue.

It's not something that can be brushed aside out of 'political correctness'. It matters.

The episode looks at the idea of 'toxic masculinity' and the impact this has on young men, as well as going into hard-hitting stories about men in domestic abuse situations and the challenges they face in the system.

We went to Forest Town Arena, where we met with a number of local people, as well as a local youth centre with some lads who were thrilled to meet Danny and take part.

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Sadly the youth centre missed out in the final cut for the film, but Mansfield still features heavily in the first episode, so I really do encourage everyone to have a watch!

​”Those who have followed me in Parliament will know I've been amongst the strongest advocates for supporting young lads from working class communities like ours, who typically have the lowest levels of attainment and social mobility of all social groups”, says Coun Ben Bradley MP.​”Those who have followed me in Parliament will know I've been amongst the strongest advocates for supporting young lads from working class communities like ours, who typically have the lowest levels of attainment and social mobility of all social groups”, says Coun Ben Bradley MP.
​”Those who have followed me in Parliament will know I've been amongst the strongest advocates for supporting young lads from working class communities like ours, who typically have the lowest levels of attainment and social mobility of all social groups”, says Coun Ben Bradley MP.

Danny asked me about the idea of 'masculinity', and the challenges facing young men from communities like ours, and think we continue to look at equality in the wrong way.

We need to tackle discrimination, and support disadvantaged people, but increasingly our national debate on ‘equality’ is about dragging people down rather than raising people up, with too much negativity in the debate about men; about these ideas of ‘male privilege’ or ‘toxic masculinity’.I personally don’t think lumping everyone in to a category based on a physical characteristic and assuming that everyone who is ‘male’ is the same, typically ‘toxic’ or ‘privileged’, can ever be helpful. We all have dads, brothers, sons. And we surely don’t want them all to be portrayed in a negative light.

I was grateful to be given the chance to speak about this and some of my campaigns over the years to highlight this plight, such as my speech on International Men’s Day a few years ago calling for a Minister to tackle men’s issues, like male cancers or mental health, just as we already have for women.

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This was something which at the time I was ridiculed for, but as time’s gone on it’s become a more genuine debate and these issues have had much more of an airing, so I’m pleased to have maybe helped to bring these things in to the conversation, and to support men who might be struggling.

It’s great to see this episode finally aired and to see people like Danny and C4 shine a spotlight on these issues, and on our town too. Wherever I can I will always fight for more of a focus on men’s mental health and to highlight things that matter to local people, and to our town.