FORMER professional boxer Martin Murray has joined forces with St Helens Council to launch an important initiative to support men with their mental health.

The St Helens-born former WBA interim middleweight champion launched a new mental health booklet with the council at his ThinkFAST boxing Academy in Parr on Friday, June 10.

Ahead of the national Men's Mental Health awareness week starting on Monday, June 13, the booklet, titled 'MENtal Strength', provides important tips and guidance for men to help keep their mental health in good shape.

St Helens Star: Martin Murray is a former WBA middleweight boxing championMartin Murray is a former WBA middleweight boxing champion

From next week, the booklet will be available to collect for free from local gyms as well as some off-licences, betting shops, and supermarkets.

Containing advice for mental health support, the booklet also has the details of local services and support lines that are available to men who may be struggling with their mental health.

Holding weekly sessions at Parr Sports & Community Centre on Derbyshire Hill Road, Martin’s Think Fast Academy uses boxing as a tool to help adults living with mental illness and prevent young people from getting involved in crime.

St Helens Star: Martin has used his platform to speak openly about mental health and the benefits of boxing and exerciseMartin has used his platform to speak openly about mental health and the benefits of boxing and exercise

Martin said: "Everyone has mental health, sometimes it's good and other times it's bad, and that is completely normal.

“Boxing training and exercise have always been a great way for me to manage my own mental health and that's why we promote it in as many ways as possible at our Think Fast Academy.

“If you're struggling with mental health, please speak to someone about it as the majority of people will have, or would have, previously experienced the same issues that you are having now."

In addition to the launch of the new booklet, St Helens Well Being Service will also be staging a host of activities during Men's Health Week from June 13 -17.

This will include group walks, blood pressure checks, brew & chat sessions at Nutgrove allotments, as well as games, sports, and light exercise sessions.

The launch of the new booklet is also being linked to the local OK2ASK campaign, which encourages more people in the borough to talk about suicide prevention.

St Helens Star: Martin's ThinkFAST Academy uses boxing to help people of all ages across St HelensMartin's ThinkFAST Academy uses boxing to help people of all ages across St Helens

Ruth du Plessis, Director of Public Health at St Helens Council, said: “Although overall the rate of suicide deaths in the borough is lower than it was, unfortunately, we are still seeing a number of suicide cases in St Helens which is tragic and upsetting.”

“We want to continue working towards our ultimate goal of having zero suicides in St Helens and we hope this new guide can be used as a valuable resource by men across the borough.

“Its key theme is based around strength and is designed to counter the traditional stigma of 'weakness' when discussing men’s mental health. That is somehow a sign of failure or weakness for men to disclose they have a mental health problem when actually, speaking about how we are feeling and asking for help takes courage.”

To view the new booklet online visit this link and for further details on the full list of activities during Men's Mental Health week click here.