A personal battle with depression has spurred an Eastwood businessman into organising a special event in aid of a mental-health charity.
Darren Cope, and his girlfriend, Kelly Brammer, are hard at work selling tickets for the masked ball, which takes place at Eastwood Hall on Friday, September 28.
Held to raise money for Derbyshire Mind, the MasquerMind Carni-Ball follows a similar event last year, which generated £1,100 and was featured on a BBC TV documentary called ‘My Mind And Me’.
This year’s event will have a Caribbean theme and the pair promise it will be bigger and better, with 100 people expected to have fun at the £45-a-head bash.
However, Darren, 28, says it will be particularly poignant for him because it will mark a return from his own difficult struggles with depression over the past 12 months.
He said: “I have seen the effects of mental health on other people before, but over the past year, I have had first-hand experience of depression, which started not long after we held the first ball last September.
“Looking back, organising the ball gave me a focus. But after it was over, I realised that I couldn’t carry on what I was doing in my work life, and that brought on the depression.
“As a result, I stopped contacting friends or doing things that I enjoyed, which is the effect depression can have on you.
“You lose your willpower or drive to do even the most basic things and become trapped, knowing you need to change your life but not feeling confident enough to take control, which only makes things worse.”
Kelly, 36, encouraged Darren to talk about the way he was feeling, while another male friend advised him to take direct action to turn his life around.
Their support, along with advice from his GP and mental-health treatment, led to Darren giving up his job and launching his own company, Eventive Solutions Ltd, which is based in Eastwood and offers advice and guidance to small businesses.
He said: “I’ve got to the stage now where I can open up about depression to anybody, and I find that really useful.
“But there are many others who keep quiet about it because they are worried what their mates would say. Instead, they suffer in silence, which can lead to disastrous consequences.”
Kelly, who also runs her own Eastwood-based business, Kelly Anne Events and PR, originally came up the idea of the ball, having also experienced mental-health problems of her own and deciding she wanted to help others.
She said: “Many people pretend everything is all right. It’s like they’re wearing a mask to hide their true feelings, which is why we came up with the theme of a masked ball. We want the event to encourage them to take that mask off.
“No-one is saying they can change their lives by coming to our ball but they can enjoy themselves among people who understand them while raising money for a local charity that carries out valuable work to help others going through the same experiences.”
ENGLAND footballer Danny Rose became the latest high-profile, male celebrity to open up about his problems with depression when he gave a revealing interview just before this summer’s World Cup.
He followed in the footsteps of stars such as cricketer Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff, rapper Stormzy and wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. However, men admitting they are in trouble are few and far between.
Statistics show that a significant number experience mental-health issues but never seek help or open up to friends. At the same time, in the UK, men are three times more likely than women to commit suicide.
Sinead Dalton, of Derbyshire Mind, said: “There is still a great deal of stigma, so we are very grateful to Darren and Kelly for organising the ball. It will raise much-needed funds and help us promote awareness and understanding.”