The key to promoting mental wellbeing and suicide prevention is to get people talking. Cricket suits this with the convergence of people in one place to follow a common interest. The hope is that the range of conversation between team mates can extend beyond runs, wickets and averages to being able to support when things get tough.
Aside from cricket, there is another institution of British life that draws people together. One that can host many an important point in life and often acts as the hub of a community. The pub.
When Old Mill Brewery, got in touch one day to talk about how they could help start conversations about suicide prevention we were intrigued. The suggestion was to brew an ale especially for Opening Up and C.A.L.M. The driving force behind this was Ryan Truswell, brewery manager at the Snaith based company.
“I’d followed Opening Up’s work he’s been doing for a while now. So was trying to think of a way that I could help raise awareness of Mark’s work and mental health. Luckily running a brewery gave me the chance to create a beer that would hopefully be seen across the country and prompt people to reach out if they were struggling.”
As the process of creating the new beer took place, Ryan oversaw the process from start to finish.
“I am in charge of pretty much all the brewing, from producing a recipe for the beer I want to create, through every stage of the brewing process mashing/beer production, fermenting and racking. I take a hands on approach.”
Rather than just create something to raise money for C.A.L.M and awareness for Opening Up, the idea went further. To trigger conversations at the bar, with the beer the catalyst.
“Having dealt with mental health issues myself and having it directly affect the lives of people around me I wanted people to know its’ okay to not be okay, to speak out and get help before it’s too late. I lost a very dear friend to suicide and not a day goes past that I don’t wish that he could have spoken out and asked for help. I like to think that if in each pub/bar/sports club that 12th man is served, if it helps just one person speak out its done what it set out to do.”
Whilst the links between alcohol misuse and mental illness are clear to see, reaching people enjoying a responsible drink has made a big impact. To date three thousand gallons of 12th man have been produced, being delivered to licensed premises from Dorset to Inverness with over £1400 raised for C.A.L.M in the process.
Ryan has no wish for that to be the end though.
“We have made 12th man a core beer meaning it will be available 24/7 from ourselves, as well as national wholesalers. We are open to doing any work we possibly can with Opening Up and the CALM team to promote mental wellbeing. It’s not often that you feel you’re making a difference to people’s lives when you work for a brewery.”