A MENTAL health charity has helped thousands of men 'face up' to their problems as part of a project.

More than 2,500 men across Blackburn with Darwen have accessed 'Facing Up', a project run by Lancashire Mind.

The project provides safe environments for men who dislike discussing their feelings, to talk about them and find ways to improve their mental wellbeing.

The National Lottery funded, five year project, has helped everyone from stressed students to frustrated job seekers through to millionaire businessmen.

Issues presented by people who took part in the project ranged from low-level stress to bereavement.

The aim of 'Facing Up' is to change attitudes, drive out stigma and ensure that all barriers to men looking after their mental health are crushed by promoting men’s mental health through a range of communication channels.

Paul Smalley, who is involved with community development at Lancashire Mind, said: "There are many studies that seek to explain men’s reluctance to speak out about mental health.

"These range from men having behaviours that are ‘hard wired' into their genetic make-up, through to social influences and life experiences that diminish the likelihood of seeking support.

"Our local experience shows that the cultural expectations of local men being ‘hard’ and ‘not showing weakness’ are the biggest barriers to them speaking out."

Co-produced with men in the area, 'Facing Up' has helped men aged between 16 and 80-years-old to access free activities including peer support groups to build connections, workshops to develop coping tools and individual support to help men overcome barriers to accessing group or formal support.

The project has also developed four 'Offload' groups all running in Blackburn with Darwen, with the groups based within community ventures including libraries and community centres.

Groups have been developed to include activities such as snooker, table tennis, curry clubs, gardening, walking, football and computer chats.

The aim of these groups are for men to support each other without having the ‘unease’ and ‘awkwardness’ of a traditional talking group.

For more information about groups in the Blackburn and Darwen area, visit www.lancashiremind.org.uk/peer-support or follow @MindFacingUp on twitter for the latest news and updates from the Facing Up project.