This November we are shinning a light on men’s mental health. We caught up charity of the year partner Six. A massive thank you to the team who shared their experiences and mental health tips.
Opening up about mental health: A blog by the team at Six
Mental health can feel like a private and lonely issue – but it’s a shared experience. One that needs to be talked about openly and without stigma or embarrassment.
We started a conversation within the agency about how we can all work together to address mental health. From dealing with the pressures of being a working parent to challenging stereotypes of what it means to be a successful person, we share our personal experiences as well as tried and tested tips to help mental wellbeing.
Sharing our experiences
“I have struggled with an eating disorder for the past 8/ 9 years that I’ve recently overcome. It wasn’t until I addressed it as a mental health problem that I was able to get over it! Now, I eat a healthy, balanced and regular diet. I am open to sharing my journey as I don’t think we should shy away from our mental health battles. 1 in 6 people suffer each week from mental health… Sharing is caring!”
“Throughout my life, I have been through periods of anxiety. Not just feeling anxious, but full-on and sometimes debilitating anxiety attacks. When I was young my mum took me to the doctor and when I described everything getting loud (that things seemed to speed up and feeling you can’t breathe), he said there may be something wrong with my ‘inner ear’. The words ‘panic attack’ or ‘anxiety attack’ were not mentioned. I think at that time (mid ‘80s), mental health was undiagnosed for a lot of people.”
“‘I am not my thoughts’ is something that I have to remind myself. Too often I find myself being self-critical, my internal monologue can question my ability and my decisions often leading to anxiety, disturbed sleep and loss of appetite. If I’m not busy with work (or a home project) my mind tends to get busy. In the past, I have gotten to a point where I’ve had no positive thoughts about myself or my abilities at all.”“What it means to be a dad is changing, and that’s having an impact on men’s mental health. More dads today want to be fully involved in family life, but there aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all. You either have to work and earn less, be less involved at home, or have a lot less personal time. That’s not an easy choice to make. I think as parents, we have to be honest with ourselves about where our priorities really lie and be prepared to open up about things when it all feels too much.”
“From an individual perspective, I was diagnosed in my early twenties with Clinical Depression due to chemical imbalance. After a few years of trying to get the right treatment, I was able to find the right solution through the support of a consultant psychiatrist. I ensure that I listen to my mind and body and use mediation and calming techniques to support my mental health along with prescription drugs which work well for me and keep me grounded.”
“Mental health still feels like a weakness to me, something that I shouldn’t be experiencing as a man, and something that isn’t ‘normal’. Talking about it definitely helps and shows that most people suffer from similar experiences regardless of gender, age, experience etc.”
Our tips for helping mental wellbeing
“I’m a big advocate of meditation and mindfulness. There is a stigma attached to meditating – but the science behind it is pretty compelling. I train my body, so why wouldn’t I train my mind? I really like Headspace” www.headspace.com
“I find ‘Huberman Labs’ podcasts helpful. Hosted by Dr. Andrew Huberman he often discusses the science behind mental health. It is useful to think about the chemical make-up of the brain in a more scientific way.” https://hubermanlab.com/
“Talking about stuff and sharing with someone is important and can often partially release some of the anxiety you’re experiencing.”
“Prioritise exercise. I find nothing else has such a positive impact on my state of mind, so when I get some spare time, I reach for my running shoes.”
“I’ve ended my relationship with social media (apart from LinkedIn which is part and parcel of my career). Not only is it a time sink which stops me doing something more important, it also creates an unrealistically high bar for what my life should be.”
“I have got into a habit of documenting positive feedback or successes. If I’m sensing feelings of self-doubt, I’ll revisit my notes to remind myself that I am good at what I do and people do appreciate and value my input. This diagram struck a chord with me from a talk I attended a few months ago at Collaborate Bristol – Kat Husbands – Imposter syndrome in User Centred Design”
“I work on my mental wellbeing through a couple of avenues. Playing football is probably the biggest. It’s a bit of an escape. I can forget everything else (if only for a few hours!). My time at home and with the family is also super important to me and really helps me focus on what matters.”
“I joined a gym recently and have been swimming most mornings before work. When I’m swimming I’m almost in a bit of a trance and after I feel like my mind has been given a break!”
“I try and exercise at least 3 times a week plus I try and do a little something every day whether that be a few sets of free weights or squats whilst waiting for the kettle, whatever I can. I know body and mind go hand in hand.”
Why we work with Bristol Mind
1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem each year in England and 1 in 6 experience an ongoing challenge. Out of 56.223 million (that figure came from a quick Google search) that would mean just over 14 million are affected by mental health each year, and 9 million experience ongoing feelings of things like anxiety and depression.
Let’s be honest, we are all impacted by large scale things such as COVID, the economy, sustainability, as well as what might be going on in our own lives: workload, personal and family matters. These all impact our ability to cope at times. By supporting a local health charity, we can hopefully help to raise awareness of mental health and reach people when they are at their most isolated and vulnerable.
If you need help or advice concerning this article:
Please contact our information service by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
or calling us 0117 980 0370 and for further information on support, or you can call MindLine on 0808 808 0330.