Whatley raises awareness of men’s mental health

Whatley raises awareness of men’s mental health


Mental Health Awareness Week, an initiative created by the Mental Health Foundation to raise awareness of and improve the UK’s mental health, takes place this year from 13th-19th May.

A topic of great importance is men’s mental health specifically, as men are less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health problems.

James Whatley (Morley Hayes Golf Club), Head Professional and Academy Director of the East Midlands Golf Academy, organises hosted golf trips, but for his 2023-24 holiday season, Whatley wanted to raise awareness of men’s mental health to his guests by partnering with a local like-minded company:

“One of the parents from the football club that my lad plays for started a mental health business called Semicolon Creations. She had struggled with her mental health in the past and wanted to build a business but also raise awareness. Semicolon, for an author, stands for ‘you could end the story, but not yet’, and that’s where it comes into suicide and mental health awareness.”

The ‘Not Yet’ logo was then added to the golf shirts gifted to all guests taking part in golf holidays for the 2023-24 season.

Founder of Semicolon Creations, Jo Brooks, speaking on TikTok (@semicolon.creations), said: “Mental health doesn’t discriminate and can affect anybody, so the more we can get people talking about it, the more normal it’ll become, the easier it is for people to reach out, and the more lives we save. I can’t thank James enough for his continued support.”

Whatley’s personal experiences shaped his decision to become more involved in raising awareness of how mental health affects men.

“I feel that men have a barrier up when it comes to talking about mental health. Everyone’s ‘okay’. It struck a chord with me because I always say I'm okay. I lost my dad and my sister in the space of 11 months about 6 years ago and my take was always ‘I’m okay’, and actually deep down you’re not.

“So now I’m really passionate about getting people to chat; some people don’t want to but if you’ve got a logo on your shirt and someone asks you what it’s about, it might just open a conversation and that’s what I’m trying to do. I'm not looking to pry into people’s business, but if you can raise awareness, I think it can only be positive.”

As Whatley says, typically men don’t speak about their mental health as much as they should. Society’s expectations and traditional gender roles place an expectation on men to be strong, dominant and in control, which can make it harder for men to reach out for help and open up about their mental health.

The Mental Health Foundation’s statistics show that three times as many men as women die from suicide, with suicide currently the largest cause of death for men under 50, whilst only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men.

Whatley continued: “I think it’s amazing how many people go ‘yeah men don’t talk’, and this is coming from other men. I also think, being a professional golfer, working in professional sport, mental health is massive. Playing PGA events - it’s stressful and it does create mental health issues: the expectations you put on yourself, being in the public eye a bit and everyone knowing how you're doing at work. So wearing the ‘Not Yet’ logo myself when I’m playing, might just get another pro to chat too - only good can come from it.”

“I’d say to any PGA Professional, make sure you’ve got someone you can chat to. I’m really fortunate that I have got a family unit, my wife’s unbelievable, I always feel like I can talk to her. But make sure you’ve got people - a team, you don’t need to make it public, it doesn't need to be posted on social media, as long as you’ve got people you can talk to, that’s massive.”

The Mental Health Foundation has a wealth of advice and resources to support anyone with their mental health. Their page dedicated to men’s mental health can be found here.

For further resources on Mental Health, visit PGA Learn.

There’s also the 24/7 helpline within the Members' Area: https://www.pga.info/members/membership-services/mental-health-support/



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