In 2018 I co-founded Alright Mate? with Cally Hayes, a playwright and mental health nurse. Alright Mate? is an award-winning community interest company that produces participatory art projects that normalise conversations about male mental health. We set this company up to explore and respond to the declining mental health of men in the UK.
Alright Mate? has produced theatre, installations, and books with groups such as veterans, construction workers, and dads. Our work has taken place in a range of places from barbershops, gyms, and building sites, to establishments including Exeter’s Wellcome Centre and the MET Office.
At the heart of our work is a belief that amplifying real and relatable conversations about male mental health in accessible and community-specific contexts can increase the likelihood of individuals seeking help early, if and when they encounter problems.
In 2021 I stepped back from this role and remain an advisory director.
Below is a selection of projects I led for Alright Mate?.
Posters for construction sites
In response to the alarming statistics surrounding mental health in construction, we created a poster for construction sites that allows viewers to listen to conversations between myself and members of the industry talk openly about their own experiences and ideas about mental health using a QR code and web link, and signposts viewers to available services. By bringing these often unspoken stories into the open, and letting people know where they can find support, this project aimed to normalise the topic of mental health on construction sites and make it more likely that people seek help early, if and when they need it.
These posters were purchased by a range of companies including Kier.
Books by and for veterans
We invited a group of veterans together to make a booklet by veterans for veterans about mental health; stories, tips, ideas, and people to speak to. Thousands of copies of this booklet have been distributed by the Armed Forces Support Hub South West (whose board I sit on).
"The project was great in getting myself and fellow veterans to talk about our mental health issues and also to understand that you are not alone. Also finding and learning new ways to manage and cope with my illness. It was great to talk with like-minded people, learn new techniques, and create new friends and support networks. Also the feeling of achievement by creating a book that will hopefully help other veterans." Participant
Male Mental Health Installation
The first installation was made before we formed as a company and become our namesake.
In early 2018 we interviewed a wide range of men in Exeter about their ideas and experiences of mental health. We then teamed up with wet-plate photographer Stephen Raff to produce portraits of the participants. The portraits are displayed with headphones that play looping medleys of excerpts of the conversations we had.
We first exhibited at Roots Foundation Barbershop & Social Space before touring art spaces and conferences and winning 1st prize for art at PsychArt Conference 2018. Thanks to Roots for first hosting this, it was our first step in Alright Mate?'s journey.