Son sets up mental health podcast after dad's suicide

Two friends from Kent have created a podcast to talk about the stigma surrounding men’s mental health, in honour of one of the founder’s father, who committed suicide.

Charlie Towner from Snodland, and Louis Morel from Rochester, star in the programme called ‘Men Don’t Cry’, which tackles normally hard-to-talk-about topics such a grief and depression.

Charlie Towner and friend Louis Morel have set up a podcast called ‘Men Don’t Cry’. Picture: Charlie Towner

The duo started it after Charlie lost his dad, Steve Towner, to suicide.

He said: “Throughout my childhood, he was what you would call the ‘ideal dad’.

“He was a very hard worker, and on the weekends would always make time for us.

“Unfortunately when I became a teenager, he got high-level anxiety and depression.

“In the following years, he struggled with his mental health, and that definitely reflected on how he came across sometimes.”

Steve Towner, Charlie's father, who sadly passed away from suicide. Picture: Charlie Towner
Steve Towner, Charlie’s father, who sadly passed away from suicide. Picture: Charlie Towner

Steve sadly passed away in April 2020, when Charlie was just 18.

The 45-year-old, who worked for CPI, was a massive Liverpool fan and an amateur boxer, representing Kent at a county level.

Charlie said: “At his core, he was a very good man who wanted to make everyone else happy – this was probably the reason why he made the decision in the end.

“Dad was the best host and most sociable person ever. If it wasn’t for the restrictions due to Covid-19 that year, there would have been hundreds of people who wanted to come to his funeral, as he was a very popular man.”

The pair of 20-year-olds have been friends for more than two years, after crossing paths at the Ravensbourne University London, where they both study TV and film degrees.

Charlie Towner, from Snodland, seen here with his father and two brothers. Picture: Charlie Towner
Charlie Towner, from Snodland, seen here with his father and two brothers. Picture: Charlie Towner

Charlie explained: “We would be up until two or three in the morning, just talking and opening up about our mental health, families and history of any traumas that we might have been through.

“One day we thought – why are we wasting these conversations? Surely there are other people that would want to talk and hear about this?

“If we can show that two lads can open up together, then anyone else can do it, and that is the whole message of the podcast.”

Named ‘Men Don’t Cry’ – inspired by Louis’ favourite song ‘Boys Dont Cry’ by The Cure – each episode has covered topics such as depression, grief, masculinity and self-care.

They have more than 50,000 views on all social media platforms combined and 2,000 views on their YouTube channel.

The pair aim to tackle the stigma surrounding men's mental health. Picture: Charlie Towner
The pair aim to tackle the stigma surrounding men’s mental health. Picture: Charlie Towner

The podcast, which is only six months old, has also won a National Student Television Association Award (NaSTA) for Multimedia Content.

It has now been approved for another six episodes which will be out weekly, along with a live-stream to raise money for mental health charity YoungMinds and Snodland organisation The Men’s Mind Project, on Wednesday, June 8.

Charlie says that they have been receiving a lot of positive reactions every time they release a new episode.

“One of the best things about the platform is getting messages from people who say that we have changed their outlook, or thanking us for talking about a certain topic.

“All the pain, trauma and grief I went through when my dad died, seeing those messages makes it all worth it, and I know that is definitely what he would have wanted me to do.

“I genuinely believe he would be very proud of me and the way that I have conveyed his story.”

“I think about it a lot…when I miss him, I imagine if he was here, and he would give me a big hug, as dad was a very cuddly person.

“I genuinely believe he would be very proud of me and the way that I have conveyed his story.”

Live Well Kent & Medway spokesman Chris Thomas says: “Many of us will struggle with our mental health at some point so it’s great to see more people talking openly about how they are feeling.

“Having a conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference – whether it’s a quick message to someone you know, a coffee break, or a walk and talk. If they are struggling, you can tell them that Live Well Kent & Medway is here to provide extra help.

“If you are feeling isolated or have nobody to talk with, Live Well Kent & Medway runs in-person and virtual meet-ups. These are supportive spaces where you can talk with people in similar situations, get advice for whatever you’re going through, and take part in group activities.”

You can check out Men Don’t Cry on YouTube here.

For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time or click here to visit the website.

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