Todmorden man shares his mental health struggles to encourage others to seek help

A man from Todmorden has spoken of his mental health challenges in the hope of encouraging others to seek help.

By Tom Scargill
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 3:44 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd May 2022, 3:47 pm

Dan Shackleton, 37, who lives in Todmorden, is a facilitator at Andy's Man Clubs' Hebden Bridge group, has post traumatic stress disorder which stems from witnessing a road traffic accident aged 11 in which a family died.

Dan has faced other traumatic events in his life since then, but after seeking help from Andy's Man Club following an attempt to take his own life, he is now helping to run the Hebden Bridge branch of the group.

"My mental health goes back to when I was 11 and just starting high school," Dan said.

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Dan with his fellow facilitators at Andy's Man Club's Hebden Bridge group

"My mum and dad broke up and back then nobody talked, especially not children.

"In 2004, I witnessed something that has haunted me ever since, a road traffic accident on the motorway where, sadly a family died after a collision with a truck.

"I've never cried as much as I did on that day and I got my PTSD diagnosis shortly after - at the time, talking about how you felt as a man was practically unheard of, so even after my diagnosis, I put a brave face on, bottled up my feelings and in a strange way, became something of an actor.

"Fast forward to 2012 and I sadly lost a very good friend, Jack, who had been serving in Afghanistan at the time and although losing him affected me massively, I said nothing.

Dan Shackleton

"Four years after this, I lost my grandma and cousin Hannah in a two-week period of time - my grandma was my rock and losing them both so close to each other I hit rock bottom. I attempted to take my own life.

"Thankfully, I survived. I had my dog, Zak, beside me that day and from then on, he actually became one of my confidants.

"After losing him, I missed him like you wouldn't believe."

Dan says shortly after this, he realised he had to try and do something to help himself get better.

"Initially, I tried private counselling, this did help, but it was expensive and a distance from home.

"Then, a friend told me about a recent group that had just started, Andy's Man Club, which was set up in 2016 in Halifax after a young man named Andy Roberts took his life unexpectedly.

"Andy's family didn’t want any other family to go through what they had and quickly realised that men didn't speak openly about their feelings and had no easy place to do so.

"I attended for two years, sharing my story for the first time and then three years ago I was asked to become a facilitator at Hebden Bridge, with my three best mates Guy, Andy and John.

"The Hebden Bridge group is going from strength to strength and I absolutely love what I do, we call ourselves the Fab Four!

"I'd encourage anyone who is going through a storm in their life to get along to a session, whether that's Hebden or any of our 100-plus groups nationwide - it is worth a try.

"I still struggle with my past but the group, alongside my amazing wife Amy, have been a saving grace for me.

"I hope my story will help someone out there share theirs"

The Hebden Bridge group runs from the Town Hall every Monday at 7pm, except bank holidays.