About 120 delegates left a groundbreaking conference in Lincoln determined to help smash the stigma surrounding men’s mental health issues – which leads 84 men a week to commit suicide.

#ManChat, which was organised by NWCH and staged at The Showroom, off Tritton Road, featured professional speakers, intensely personal stories and in-depth workshops, which left participants hopeful that this trend can be reversed.

NWCH Co-founder and Chief Executive Naomi Watkins said: “Twelve men a day, 84 a week take their lives.  This is shocking, and we need to do something about it.  NWCH wants to lead the way in breaking the stigma associated with men’s mental health, and our #ManChat conference was just one way of encouraging people in Lincolnshire and beyond to talk openly and honestly about it.

The comprehensive conference programme provided reassurance for men suffering in silence and families worried about male relatives or friends that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It also provided extra encouragement for professionals offering counselling support.

Before lunch, the gathering heard from six speakers. First up was counsellor Michael Davis, who helps men to process grief and who said that society tends to stereotype those who are dealing with loss.

“There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Men feel awkward about showing their emotions due to social barriers put in place by society. Sometimes they may be considered weak or a ‘non-alpha’ male,” he said.

“But, people need to observe a man’s grief, read their emotions and give them space and love, because grief has no concept of time.”

Colin Hayward, whose mental health is currently improving, shared his experience of growing-up, He told how he had felt vulnerable and frightened, had been bullied, turned to drink, used drugs and ended-up feeling direction-less. He had been hospitalised and had tried to kill himself.

Being diagnosed as having a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Anti-Social Personality Disorder (APD), had given him insights and helped him to acknowledge the effects of his past.

You could hear a pin drop as delegates, including Stuart Brown (Life Begins at 50, 40 Years of Shame and Fear) told their stories. Stuart, who once lived in Lincolnshire, shared how he had been sexually abused as a young person. The perpetrator was eventually jailed for 20 years in 2016 for his abuse of Stuart and three others.

Stuart said: “I went through some very dark times. I didn’t realise how much the geography of a place can play in your mental health.  In the 1970s male-on-male rape was hardly ever talked about. Nobody ever asked if it had happened to me, but it affected me in all sorts of ways, throughout my entire life.

“Being groomed today has changed. Technology has driven that. Online grooming gives perpetrators anonymity. It happens because parents are naïve about technology. There is peer pressure among kids with Apps and Social Media.”

Three highly-motivational professional speakers added an extra dimension to #ManChat.

Nick Elston’s keynote speech “Talking Anxiety” highlighted how he overcame Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Anxiety and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – where a person catastrophises daily events – to become a successful public speaker.

Nick urged other people to follow his lead and use these types of experiences to motivate themselves to take action and get help, adding that there is always hope and opportunities waiting.  He also told delegates that it is vital to surround themselves with the right people and to be aware that an unexpected event can set them back, but it is resilience that will enable them to recover.

ParaTriathlete (swimming, cycling and running) Steve Judge’s uplifting and humorous talk (Tears Rolled Down but I Stood Up) provided real food for thought for anyone who had undergone a life-changing experience.

Steve told how his car skidded and crashed in 2002, leaving him hospitalised with two broken legs and a warning that he might the face the amputation of one and never walk again.

In the end, he underwent a partial amputation, but his legs were saved. However, he had to endure months and months of painful rehabilitation. Steve had always loved running, but for a long time that was out of the question. As he regained strength he did lots of swimming and cycling.

However, his commitment and determination paid off and eventually saw him compete in all aspects of the Paratriathlon and achieved the accolade of British, European and World Champion and conference delegates gave him a loud round of applause when he proudly held-up his medals.

Steve has now retired from international competition, but he is passionate about sharing his story and encouraging other people to overcome adversity, to achieve their own goals and happiness by “being the best they can be.”

UK’s number 1 motivational speaker and business networking entrepreneur Brad Burton
rounded-off the speakers with an energetic delivery that left no-one in any doubt that it is possible to recover from mental illness.

Brad left school without any qualifications. For 31 years, his life was nothing to write home about.  He spent years on benefits, hit the bottle, took drugs and even got shot at twice. At one point his marriage was in danger of breaking down.

One day he decided enough was enough.  He had to change his life story for the better. It was challenging but Brad went on to found the highly successful 4Networking business group, has written several books and is in constant demand as a speaker and mentor.

“Things will change, but you have to change the record and reprogramme yourself.  The first person you have to convince of your own brilliance is yourself.  You need to find your enemies, the things that hold you back, like fear and jealousy and let them go,” said Brad.

He said it is important for anyone trying to improve their lives to ask themselves if they are currently making the best use of their time.

“Ask yourself where your GPS is today. Get the framework (of your life) in place and the bigger picture will paint itself,” he said.

#ManChat also included lively, in-depth workshops, which gave conference delegates the opportunity to thorough explore the issues of anger, grief and suicide.

NWCH is a Community Interest Company based on Lincoln’s Allenby Business Park. has a 26-strong team working out of the centre, including a six-strong management team.

In its first year, the 18-months-old CIC received approaching 600 referrals from charity organisations, schools, Macmillan Nurses, GPs, drug and alcohol services and other medical professionals. It is now approaching 600 referrals since April 2017.

Early Bird Tickets Available Now

#Manchat   |  Oct 17th   |   The Showroom | Lincoln   

ManChat – A Conference addressing Men’s Mental Health. With guest speakers telling their life stories and sharing their experiences with their own mental health. Including workshops in the afternoon based around three key topics in men’s Mental Health:

Bereavement | Suicide | Anger

NWCH is passionate about helping men to be aware of the warning signs early on, so we can support you to address the key concerns in your life. Through counselling and support at our dedicated hub in Lincoln. This year we are running a campaign about breaking the stigma around mens mental health.

Know the facts:


We have to do soemthing about this – the stigma around men’s mental health has to change. Join us to start making a difference – attend our conference. 

Macmillan & Sophie’s Journey Coffee Morning – Great Success

Thank you to all who came to our coffee morning, made cakes, donated and took part in the morning.

We raised a whopping £240.00! Which has been split equally between Macmillan Cancer Support and local Lincolnshire Charity – Sophie’s Journey.

We had a great morning and even Ellie our pet therapy dog joined us! Hope to see you at one of our events soon, all details can be found here

Our next event is Thursday 26th October 6pm-8pm and is our monthly networking event. Cristina Odigie-Bulnes will be talking about Brain Neurobiology and Emotional Regulation! Refreshments will also be provided – all for £12 (£6 for members) a event not to be missed! Book here

Open Day 26th September 10am-4pm

CIVIC dignitaries, health professionals and families turned out in force, eager to get the inside story on a new Lincoln counselling venture, which has got off to a great start.

The co-founders of The Naomi Watkins Counselling Hub (NWCH), Naomi Watkins and Alex Parkin, were delighted at the number of people who flocked to their open day and evening reception.

The women who have recently celebrated a £25,000 grant from The Bromhead Trust, to allow them to help more young people affected by sexual abuse or rape, made the most of a superb opportunity to show guests around the Hub, chat about their services and share just how much their Community Interest Company has achieved in just over six months!

A Gainsborough-area mum also shared how NCWH has made a real difference to her family and Alex (Parkin) read out a letter from a previous client who was keen to tell how NWCH had helped her to feel more like herself again.

More than 35 people popped into the Hub during the day. Thirty more arrived in the evening and the centre’s 20 staff members including two pet therapy dogs,  were also in attendance. Guests included family and friends who have supported Naomi and Alex.

Professionals at the evening reception included representatives from Lincolnshire schools, county businesses, Lincolnshire Police, Lincolnshire County Council, LPFT, the University of Lincoln, counsellors and previous clients.

Lincoln’s Mayor Councillor Chris Burke, City Sheriff Jo Rimmer and the City Sheriff’s Consort Kraig Needs, were among the earliest daytime visitors.

“I am hugely impressed with the vital work that this organisation carries out in meeting the needs of an under-supported and vulnerable part of our community,” said the Mayor, Councillor Burke.

“This environment is highly appropriate and obviously well-designed and focused on putting different client groups at their ease. It is an organisation that should be promoted and funded because of the immense amount of work that still needs to be done.”

The Hub has three, sensitively decorated private rooms, where qualified counsellors offer children, young people, couples and families, the space to safely share their feelings.

NWCH’s youngest patients are helped through a mix of pet therapy, sand tray therapy, play and counselling – all designed to help them to process their emotions, regain their confidence and start to feel part of their community once more.

A mum-of-three from Gainsborough, who has undergone treatment for breast cancer, received support from Team Verrico in Scunthorpe, who helped her to get a second opinion in Harley Street and then signposted her to Naomi, so that her son (eight) and daughter (14) could benefit from funded counselling.

“It is fab here. The children have been for counselling sessions which have given them more stability and allowed them to speak without fear of upsetting me or of any other comeback. There has been a positive knock-on effect for the whole family,” she said.

The woman praised Naomi for following-up the counselling sessions with a telephone call to check how her family was doing.

Alex and Naomi, who told guests how they had created the Hub after spotting a gap in the market, said they were hugely grateful for the wealth of support they have received.

Alex said: “The day was amazing. We couldn’t have asked for better support from everyone who attended. The atmosphere was just great, right through to the end.”

“We are so grateful for everything our friends, family members and our team members do to help NWCH to grow and go from strength to strength. We look forward to helping more people within the local community in the future.

Naomi added: “Not only was our open day a real success. We had lots of enquiries and people kept saying they were very impressed with our premises. In addition, lots of people echoed our own thoughts, that a service like ours is exactly what Lincolnshire needs.”