Assistant Operations Manager for ABP, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor, ex-British Army
Why do you think men’s mental health such a taboo subject?
I think it has long been engrained that the men are the protectors, steadfast and stoic. We cannot be weak or suffer as we are the providers for the family. I think some of those things are still true, but men absolutely do suffer. To admit you need help or are suffering may be seen as weakness among your peers. If you cannot look after yourself how are you supposed to look after your family?
Why do you think men tend to steer away from talking about their mental health?
The phrases you hear a lot are, ‘keep your chin up’, ‘stiff upper lip’, ‘you'll be alright’. Really? Will I? Hearing those sorts of comments make it seem like it’s not ok for men to suffer, let alone speak about it. We mask it, hide it, bury it deep inside, sometimes until it is too late. How will your colleagues view you if you suffer? Will your employers think you are incapable of completing your work effectively? All of these issues just compound your current issues and exacerbate them.
Why do you feel it is so important for this barrier surrounding men and their mental health to be broken down? (In essence, why are initiatives such as The Westerly Club of such importance?)
Men, like everyone else, need help. It should be seen that it actually takes strength and courage to talk about your issues, let alone admit that you have any. If men are given the freedom and respect to be able to speak about their issues, it will make every aspect of their lives better. Make them a better father, husband, worker, friend. Empower them to potentially help and support others also. If men know their friends suffer, it may encourage them to be more open and seek help. I am passionate about men’s mental health because I suffer with it myself, and have seen first-hand the negative impacts it can have on, not just your life, but on the lives of those around you. Seeking not just help, but the right help, changed my life for the better and I would encourage any man, no matter their age, to do the same.