A FORMER emergency medical technician has launched a new way of supporting young men in Carlisle who are struggling with their mental health.

Liam Edmondson, 31, has drawn on experiences in his own life to start Offload Cumbria, a new project to support young men struggling with their mental health.

The former police special constable and emergency medical technician has himself experienced battles with poor mental health, brought about in part by the traumatic experiences he faced as an emergency medical technician.

Liam was prompted to start Offload as a result of his experiences using professional mental health servies in Cumbria.

“They are under-funded, under-resourced. They would be the first, I’m sure, to say they would love to do more, but they don’t have the capacity to offer more than they do right now.”

Liam explained that he aims for Offload to be a service that helps younger men feel less isolated in their struggles with mental health - an urgent issue as the leading cause of death among young men in the UK is suicide.

“I think there’s something specifically about the culture among men that prevents them from speaking out about their experiences with mental health,” Liam said.

“The phrase ‘toxic masculinity’ is used a lot these days, but I think it’s quite useful as a way of describing that particular belief among a lot of men that you can’t talk about what you’re feeling because it would be seen as weak.

“I want to do what I can to show people that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“If anything it’s stronger to speak out when you’re struggling. I’m hoping Offload Cumbria might be able to encourage people to open up.

“It’s only by opening up that men will be able to see that they’re not alone.”

Liam will hold regular support group sessions at Greystone Community Centre.

He has held two sessions so far, with the next session taking place on Monday at 7pm.

Liam said he hopes to encourage a “casual and relaxed” environment in each of the sessions he holds, cultivating a place for young men to “chill out when things are getting stressful”.

“I’m hoping to expand where Offload operates eventually,” Liam said.

“Ideally, I’d like to expand into west Cumbria, eventually all across Cumbria one day.

“But at the moment I’ve decided to just focus on Carlisle initially, as it’s just me running things right now.”

Liam was keen to stress that he doesn’t want anyone to see Offload as a replacement for professional mental health services. Instead, it is an addition or a bridge for those who are looking for support.

For more information, visit offloadcumbria.co.uk, or email offloadcumbria@outlook.com.