Are men getting better, talking about mental health?   Men's mental health is a topic that has long been shrouded in stigma and silence. For too long, men have been conditioned to believe that showing vulnerability or asking for help is a sign of weakness. But the truth is, talking about men's mental health is crucial for supporting overall wellbeing and breaking down harmful stereotypes. In recent years, there has been a significant shift in attitudes towards men's mental health, with more and more men feeling comfortable opening up about their feelings and seeking support.   But are we really getting better at talking about men's mental health? While there has been progress in recent years, there is still a long way to go. Many men still feel pressure to conform to traditional ideas of masculinity, which often discourage them from showing vulnerability or seeking help for mental health issues. Too many men continue to suffer in silence, afraid to speak up about their struggles due to fear of judgment or ridicule. This stigma needs to be challenged and dismantled in order to create a safe and supportive environment for men to talk about their mental health. This is why it is crucial to continue the conversation and educate ourselves on the importance of mental health awareness.  So, can talking really help? The answer is yes. By talking about their feelings and experiences, men can start to break down the barriers that prevent them from seeking help. Talking allows men to express their emotions, gain perspective on their struggles, and receive guidance and support from others. It is a powerful tool for promoting mental wellbeing and can lead to improved mental health outcomes. By encouraging conversations about men's mental health, we can help break down stigma and create a healthier and more compassionate society.   Let's continue to challenge the status quo, break down barriers, and create a space where men feel comfortable talking about their mental health. Together, we can make a difference and help men live happier, healthier lives. Where talking about mental wellbeing is not only accepted but encouraged. 

It's okay to not be okay, but it's even better to talk about it! Graphic of two heads in conversation
Infographic of statistics for men's mental health & Samaritans information 116 123

The Power of Sharing Personal Journeys 

Life's challenges and adversities are universal, yet how we handle them is deeply personal. The story of one individual's journey from the depths of despair to finding renewed purpose and joy in life is not just inspiring: it's a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. 
The inception of Mindmaps Wellbeing by Tim, a Registered Mental Health Nurse, is rooted in the understanding that mental health is a critical aspect of our overall wellbeing. Tim became burnt out having worked for 18 years at the crisis end of mental ill health but was determined his next path was still going to have an impact. Educating our workforce and providing the tools and resources to support mental wellbeing became a priority to take preventative action. 
For me having spent my career in hospitality, recruitment, and the niche of creating back garden retreats. Bringing my business development skills to help Tim and his mission. The connection is not my career path but the shared human experience of overcoming personal crises and wanting to make a difference. 
I found writing my chapter therapeutic, helping to process previously unresolved emotions. Picture of Mikey head shot
Following the breakdown of my first marriage which resulted in me not wanting to continue with life and taking an overdose. I have no doubt that Tim and his brother saved my life that night, getting me the help I needed. I'm now happily married with two teenage daughters and enjoy the gift of life every day. Having found myself in this position I can see how quickly things can spiral out of control. 
It's a stark reminder that life can take unexpected turns, leading the strongest among us to moments of vulnerability. The intervention by Tim and his brother during that critical time was a turning point, illustrating the importance of support and timely help.  
The subsequent journey of healing and my decision to lock away the pain as if it had never happened is a common coping mechanism. A moment in March 2019 was going to change that, during a meeting with Sharon from Discover Your Bounce, who was discussing her book on womens' health that had recently been published. It became a pivotal moment of change for me. Sharon asked if I had gone through any mental health challenges of my own which led to me sharing my story with her there and then. The encouragement that followed from Sharon, to share my story in the upcoming book she was working on for mens' health was a step towards breaking the silence that I had maintained for years. Silence, I had kept through feelings of embarrassment and shame that didn't belong. 
I had these questions going through my mind; Would sharing my story would be of any benefit? did I have it in me to write it in the first place? did I even have time to do such a task? More importantly having not shared it beyond a handful of people to that point, was I ready to have it published in a book and shared to the world? 
The timing of the lockdown period proved to be key. It provided an unexpected opportunity to reflect and draft my story. I found the process of writing to be really therapeutic, helping to process previously unreolved emotions and experiences. I came to realize a lot of the emotion and feelings I had at the time were not coming just from the break-up of my marriage but many were to do with the break-up of my parents 25-year marriage a few years before. It was only while writing that this became clear to me. The biggest challenge in the end was keeping to the word count, I think I could have written a whole book with the amount I edited out!  
The chapter title became 'Broken Marriages' I consider it more than a story; it's a piece of my lived experience that I'm hope holds potential to touch lives and provide HOPE for others.  
From the broken marriages I'm pleased to say Jo and I have been a together for 19 years. We have two teenage daughters Trinity-Jade & Ieesha-Destiny, along with our pug 'Jessie' living in Torbay. We love living near so many beaches with easy access to the countryside on our doorstep. 
It's not my only reason but a big part of why I got involved with Tim and Mindmaps Wellbeing to provide people with the tools and resources to support mental wellbeing and prevent others taking the path I once did. Since the book was published in 2020 I have found it much easier to share share my story with others and would encourage you to share yours. 
The stories found in the collection of 'Bounce Back Journey books' are a reminder that sharing our struggles can be a powerful tool for healing, not just for ourselves but for others who may find themselves in similar situations. It underscores the importance of mental health awareness and the need for platforms to provide support and understanding. It's a narrative that shows us that from brokenness can come strength, and from sharing can come healing. 
If you haven't already downloaded MINDWELL Companion (powered by enabley) do it today. You will find a whole host of resources for men's mental health & wellbeing inside for self-care and where to find help when you need it. As part of the many features in MINDWELL Companion we are looking to add peoples personal stories of overcoming or living with mental health challenges, and the recovery journey, as we know by sharing our experiences with each other we can normalize the conversations and encourage others to seek support help when they need it. If you would like to get involved in this project and share your story reach out to me by email, or message me on LinkedIn. 
MINDWELL Companion, For your wellbeing. download the app using the QR code Mikey, Jo, Trinity & Ieesha in Ibiza
left to right: Trinity, Jo, Mikey, Ieesha 
Torbay arial shot
MINDWELL Companion, resources for men download from QR here
Mens' HEALTH WEEK 2024 - June 10th - 16th 
Men don't talk, we're told. So for Men's Health Week 2024 we're encouraging men to share their stories. 
We're taking our lead from King Charles who, earlier this year, shared that he had a problem with an enlarged prostate. On the day after his announcement, there were 16,410 visits to the relevant National Health Service website page compared with 1,414 visits the previous day. Prostate Cancer UK saw an almost doubling in the number of users of its online risk checker. 
This goes to show the difference that honest sharing can make. Most of us won't have same impact as the King - for a while in the UK media, it was difficult to avoid urologists talking about the prostate and the things that can go wrong with it - but if there is a taboo about Mens' talking, well, the best way to beat a taboo is to ignore it. 

Silenced (A short documentary film) 

I was honoured to be asked by Owen to get involved with his short documentary SILENCED. 
With this months discussion on Mens' health, I thought I would share this with you.  
SILENCED . a short 20-min documentary film all about the why? Why you ask? Well, have a watch and find out... 
"This is a topic that I think is so important, now more than ever! I hope this film helps even one person to find the courage to talk. Or be the ears for someone to talk. The only way suicide and mental health is going to become a less taboo subject is if we just all talk"  
Owen Noon 
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