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"Talk to your friends. You can guarantee you aren't the first one to be down."

1. What does mental health mean to you?

For me, mental health has taken on a whole new meaning in the last few years. I never really thought to do anything related to "self-care", until lockdown in 2020. Having only bad news on the TV, radio and newspapers, no work to go, no socialisation beyond computer screens, I found myself turning night in to day, with no real routine. Self-care became vital to me in this period as a kept a journal, went walks regularly, and organised virtual meetups which turned to weekly meetups when the time came.

2. What do you do to look after your mental health?

I attend the gym, I speak regularly to my family and friends about the events I experience (where appropriate). I also take breaks from technology, especially social media which I think can be very harmful to mental health if unchecked.

3. Do you/did you ever find it hard to talk about your mental health?

I did. I believe it was a major stigma in males, especially young men as attitudes were very much "chin up and move on". However, I have a very open family and group of friends who make time for you at the drop of a hat.
This change only really happened in response to the rising male suicide rates in our local area, which saw young men we all knew taking their own lives.

4. Do you think there are any barriers to talking about your mental health being male?

Attitudes were a major barrier. It was always seen as a temporary "get over it" issue if a male was to bring it up, which I witnessed first-hand. However the rapidly changing attitudes in the last few years have been fantastic to see, which hopefully remain in place for many years to come.

5. Do you think there are enough mental health campaigns out there that are aimed at men and boys?

If you had asked me this 5 years ago, nowhere near. However, now I believe there are lots, but there can never be enough, especially to spread awareness about such a rife issue.

6. What do you think would pique the interest of men and boys when it comes to a campaign about their mental health?

Seeing those they respect or perceive as strong openly discussing their mental health or advocating for a charity which supports men's mental health.

7. Are there positive role models in the media for men and boys who are experiencing troubles with their mental health?

Yes, I believe that there are many positive role models in media for males. Hollywood celebrities like Ryan Reynolds, athletes like Michael Phelps and even seeing football players, given how integrated football is for UK culture, may inspire youths and young adults to open up..

8. What tips would you give young men/boys on talking about their mental health?

Talk to your friends. You can guarantee you aren't the first one to be down, but you sparking the conversation may lay the foundation of a healthy dialogue even if it is only between 2 people.

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