I was reflecting this morning on World Mental Health Day yesterday. I saw a very moving interview with Frank Bruno about his new book ‘Let Me Be Frank’ and his motivation in creating the Frank Bruno Foundation. I was very touched by his story and have been very moved over the last weeks by high-profile people discussing issues of mental illness after significant events. All of this is to be welcomed and applauded.
So I was thinking about the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day being workplace wellbeing. We tend to think of mental illness as being extreme and sufferers being ‘Sectioned’, but everyday, people are suffering from stress, lack of self-esteem, low confidence, marriage break up etc – all of which may not be traumatic as we think of trauma but can severely affect our performance at work. The very energy needed in managing anxiety or depression can be extremely debilitating and difficult to manage.
I was talking to someone today who had heard me talk about my work with confidence building in women and he asked me if I worked with men. We had an interesting discussion about the pressure on men to just ‘pull yourself together’ – or ‘snap out of it mate’. ‘Big boys don’t cry’ and the pressure to be the strong provider perhaps only adding to the perception that men shouldn’t show their feelings – that it is a sign of weakness.
When a man shows his feelings with another man, that man may feel uncomfortable and not know how to respond. It feeds into an innate sense in men to be action orientated and ‘fix it’ and they may not know how. To be able to be with someone in their feelings and really hear them is sometimes all that is needed. When we are heard, we feel valued.
Later on, after our discussion, the man in question apologised to me for the conversation. Actually, I felt privileged that he would share his feelings and story with me and I told him that to do that, and to seek help, is a healthy state. It is a place of vulnerability and courage and from that place can come change.
Some useful things: