#BroCheck is helping to break the stigma that surrounds mental health

PUBLISHED: 18:21 17 November 2020 | UPDATED: 18:21 17 November 2020

Scott Malcolm's #BroCheck idea was carried on by his sister, Kirsty

Scott Malcolm's #BroCheck idea was carried on by his sister, Kirsty

Archant

Have you #BroChecked today?

Kirsty Jones, founder of #BroCheck Facebook mental health support group.Kirsty Jones, founder of #BroCheck Facebook mental health support group.

I had never really had much experience with mental health apart from being a born worrier, which I have been for as long as I can remember.

That was until I became a mother, which introduced me to the world of anxiety; am I doing a good job? Is my daughter happy? The things I am sure most parents worry about and all of which I was able to deal with.

But the real smack in the face with mental health came on December 21, 2019 when my younger brother, Scott, aged just 31, committed suicide.

After the phone call it seemed that the world moved at a strange pace that was both head-spinning fast and yet painfully slow at the same time.

While my family was making the arrangements to say goodbye to Scott we got to meet some of the people in his life that we had not seen before. We loved hearing stories about him, and the love that people had for him just poured out and we soaked it all up.

Scott was not without fault and he had his own demons but what was apparent was that even in the darkest days of his life he cared about others. He would check in on those around him to make sure they were ok and offer support if they were not. This simple gesture became known among his circle of friends as ‘the brocheck‘.

The world suddenly got much quieter after the funeral, the planning that had kept us occupied was complete and what was left was quiet and questions, questions we would never have the answers to and I found myself needing to do something.

With the help of one of Scott’s friends, someone who I will be forever grateful to, I knew that somehow we had to carry on the ‘brocheck’.

The plan was to encourage those that Scott knew to continue to check on people, just ask someone “are you ok?”. We wanted to get people talking about mental health, to let them know that it is ok to struggle and it is not weak to ask for help.

With this in mind, from my home in Honiton while in the bath a month to the day after Scott died, I started a Facebook group. The #BroCheck was launched.

My thinking was it would reach a few hundred people in our circle, encouraging them to keep checking on each other in Scott’s absence. What came next I could not have imagined in a month of Sundays. The #Brocheck message spread and in that first week we had more than 4000 people join the group.

10 months later and we now give much needed peer-to-peer support to around 6700 group members. We offer a place where people can come and talk about how they feel without fear of judgement, somewhere our members know that they are not alone. We have an amazing admin team, and they give their time for free and without hesitation. Each member of the admin team comes with their own personal mental health experiences but we are not professionals. The safety and wellbeing of own members is paramount so if more professional help is needed we will signpost to the appropriate service.

#BroCheck has given nearly 7,000 people a platform and a voice to discuss their challenges, thoughts and feelings. We are playing our own small part in breaking the stigma around mental health.

Our message is a simple one, check on those around you, ask a question like, “how are you doing?” and, “do you fancy a coffee?”. Whatever works for you, just keep talking. Our hope is to help normalise mental health and make it so that it becomes as easy to seek medical help for your mind as it is for a broken bone.

We are now registered as a Community Interest Company BROCHECK C.I.C and we will donate all profits we make to mental health charities, the first of which will be Pete’s Dragons. This local charity has not only been a massive support to my family but to others I know too and they make a really amazing difference.

Come and find us on Facebook - search for #BroCheck and help us break the stigma around mental health.


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