PUBLIC health chiefs at the council are planning a campaign to encourage more men to speak about their mental health.

It forms part of a bid by Swindon Borough Council to cut the town’s suicide rate. In 2015-17, the latest years for which figures are available, 46 people took their own lives. Three quarters of them were men.

The council plans to launch its mental health campaign in the new year, with marketing material calling on people to speak to friends and family members about their feelings.

Charlie Paradise, public health manager for Swindon Borough Council, said: “Generally, about 75 per cent of people who commit suicide across the country are men.

“When you look at the men who have sadly taken their own lives, you find they have not sought help. We need to get them to be comfortable to ask for help.”

More than 400 people responded to a council survey in the autumn, telling public health officers what could help men with mental health problems in the town.

“When I started this project I didn’t know what it would turn into,” said Charlie. “We asked people what do we need in Swindon. All the feedback was that we needed to change cultures, redesign masculinity, make guys feel comfortable talking about mental health.”

Together with Wyvern Theatre-based marketing agency Create Studios, the council held a focus group session last week for men to say what messages they think should appear on campaign posters next year.

The messages will be put to the public vote over social media in the new year.

Charlie said the campaign wanted to encourage people to feel happier speaking about mental health and asking direct questions like, “are you feeling okay?”

She added: “It needs to come from everybody. It needs to come from the friends, family, colleagues, those blokes who live locally.”

People should be aware of a change in their friends' behaviour over a number of days: "Everybody acts differently. Some people withdraw into themselves. Some people get angry or upset."

For support, call Samaritans on 116 123.