MORE support is on offer to help tackle male depression and suicide in County Durham with the launch of two new groups.

ManHealth CIC, the Big Lottery-funded peer support network for men established to address male depression and suicide, is launching two more groups in Barnard Castle and Darlington.

The County Durham-based not for profit community interest company, with two existing groups in Shildon and Spennymoor, was created by social entrepreneur Paul Bannister.

Mr Bannister, 52, of Shildon, is the founder North-East children’s charity Heel and Toe and set up ManHealth after he realised talking to other men who were dealing with shared issues and experiences was a powerful tool to deal with mental health.

He said: “The idea came to me when I saw someone I hadn’t seen for years who was clearly suffering with depression.

“After agreeing to meet up regularly I realised that the benefits for both of us were huge and that I had also been living with depression – something I previously found hard to admit to anyone.”

The first group was launched in Shildon in March last year and was soon followed by the group in Spennymoor.

Now the CIC has four active groups across the region - with more in the pipeline.

Mr Bannister added: “ManHealth is a pro-active project that helps men to deal with their mental health issues before they reach crisis by allowing them to talk in a safe environment.

“This peer to peer support offered by men with lived experience can really make a difference and ultimately save lives.”

David Symington, 47, who has suffered from depression for more than 30 years, is setting up the Darlington group while ex-serviceman Dan Kilford, 38, is taking charge in Barnard Castle.

Both have been attending the free, informal weekly sessions at existing ManHealth groups and are both motivated to help other men in the region.

The Darlington launch takes place at the Quaker Meeting House on Friday, January 18, and at The Witham, in Barnard Castle, on Monday, January 21.

For more information call 01388-320023, attend a scheduled group or visit