Men on the Ropes

David White case study

Face of the advertising campaign, David White, 43, a London-based IT contractor and amateur boxer:

“Growing up in Edmonton, my dad was an electrician and my mum looked after us. I went to a comprehensive school and although it was quite rough, I did enjoy it.

I’ve got my fair share of worries; I’m a contractor, so I could lose my job at any minute, and mum and dad are ill. My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s five years ago, he’s now 81. He’s not in great form, he tries hard but has problems with mobility. Two years after his diagnosis, my mum was also diagnosed with the disease, she is 78. My folks are really dependant on me now.

Unfortunately, my wife and I can’t have kids; we left it too late. We’re resigned to it now, and I’ve realised we're not going to have a son or daughter and have missed out, but I’ve just got to get on with it.

I don’t talk to people about worries because I’m a typical bloke. My mum and dad are quite like me. They are old school, they keep everything inside. I never heard my dad talking about how something affects him emotionally. He always gives his stock answer: ‘I’m fine’. His perspective is to deal with your problems and keep them to yourself.

It’s almost like men have got this image of being strong and independent, and not needing anyone to help. I know I do it all the time, I put on a front to show I’m in control. My wife is really strong too, but the problem is that because I do it all the time, I make things more difficult for myself.

Life does get me down sometimes. My dad is back in hospital at the moment which is a big worry and I can feel the stress building up. People say I must be really good at concealing what’s inside; I know I can be good at looking calm when I’m not. Boxing has helped me, it makes you feel better about yourself. However, talking about your problems is a much better solution.

This campaign is a great idea. When I heard about it, I thought, that sounds like me. In the past, it would never have crossed my mind to call Samaritans when things were tough. I realise now that talking about my worries can be as strong a defence as boxing. If men could realise it was acceptable to call Samaritans, and to do it sooner rather than later, that would be fantastic.

If this campaign can get even one man who is struggling with life to pick up the phone and talk to someone, then it’s been worthwhile.”