Two East Midlands business partners who are organising a masked ball in aid of a local mental health charity say their first-hand experience of how depression has affected their own lives has spurred them on to make the event a bigger success.
Kelly Brammer and Darren Cope - who run Heanor-based Eventive Solutions Ltd - are currently hard at work selling tickets for the MasquerMind Carni-Ball, which takes place at Eastwood Hall on September 28.
Held in aid of the mental health charity Derbyshire Mind, the ball follows a similar event last year, which was attended by more than 80 people and raised £1,100, and was even featured on a BBC documentary called My Mind and Me.
This year’s event will have a Caribbean theme and the pair promise that it will be bigger and better, with 100 people expected to attend the £45-a-head bash.
However, Darren says that this year’s event will have an extra edge for him, because it will mark his return from his own difficult battle with depression over the past 12 months.
He said: “I’ve seen the effects of mental health on other people before, but over the past year I have had first-hand experience of depression, which started not long after we held the first ball last September.
“Looking back, organising the ball gave me a focus but after it was over, I realised that I couldn’t carry on doing what I was doing in my work life and that brought on the depression.
“As a result, I stopped contacting friends or doing the things that I enjoyed, which is the effect that depression can have on you.
“You lose your willpower or drive to do even the most basic things and become trapped in a situation where you know you need to change your life but you don’t feel able or confident enough to take control, which only makes things worse.”
As well as business partners, Kelly and Darren are a couple and she encouraged him to talk about the way he was feeling, while another male friend advised him to take direct action in order to turn his life around.
Their support, along with advice from his GP and mental health treatment, led Darren to give up his job and launch his own company, Eventive Solutions Ltd, which offers advice and guidance to small businesses.
Statistics show that a significant number of men experiencing mental health issues do not ever seek help or open up to friends. At the same time, men are three times more likely than women to commit suicide in the UK, with suicide the biggest cause of death for men aged 35 and under.
Earlier this summer the England footballer Danny Rose became the latest high-profile male celebrity to admit to having had problems with depression, following in the footsteps of cricketer Freddie Flintoff, British rapper Stormzy and wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
However, men admitting they are in trouble are very few and far between – which, says Darren, is a real problem.
Darren said: “It’s so welcome when somebody high profile talks about their own mental health problems because it can make other men who are going through a similar experience realise that they are not alone.
“I’ve got to the stage where I’ll open up about depression to anybody and I find that really useful, but there are many others who will keep quiet about it because they’re worried about what their mates would say.
“Instead, they suffer in silence, which can lead to disastrous consequences.”
Kelly, who also runs her own business, Kelly Anne Events and PR, originally came up with the idea of organising a ball after having experienced mental health problems of her own and deciding she wanted to make a difference to others in the same position.
She added: “It’s true that men don’t like to talk about mental health and it’s the same for many women, who pretend that everything’s alright.
“It’s like they’re wearing a mask to hide their true feelings, which is why we came up with the theme of a masked ball in the first place.
“We want our ball, which we hope will become an annual event, to encourage people to take that mask off.
“No-one is saying that they can change their life by coming along to our ball, but it’s somewhere they can enjoy themselves amongst people who understand them while raising money for a local charity which carries out valuable work to help people going through the same experiences.”
Sinead Dalton, corporate administrator at Derbyshire Mind, said: “There is still a great deal of stigma associated with mental health problems and we’re very grateful to Kelly and Darren for organising the MasquerMind Ball.
“As well as raising much-needed funds, will help us to promote awareness and understanding, so that more people feel able to ‘unmask’ without fear of prejudice.”
Tickets for the event cost £45 a head although discounts are available with table bookings. To find out more visit www.kellyanneevents.co.uk/masquermind
For further information please contact Simon Burch on 01332 416228 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org