This blog post is part of a series on men’s mental health for Movember. In this series, different men give their perspective on male mental health. What does it mean to deal with mental health as a man?
In certain cases as with the interview below, people have had the courage to reveal their identity. This is both brave and vulnerable, congratulations to them!
What made you want to share your story? Please introduce yourself
My name is Dirk Spits, 39 years old. Between September 2013 and May 2015 I solo-cycled from the northern tip of Alaska to the southern point of South America, an expedition of over 30.000 km that took 20 months. I did this for my foundation called 99%RIDE, raising funds and awareness for small NGOs concerning children’s and educational projects.
During the expedition I experienced the most difficult (mental, physical and emotional) situations I have ever come across. The mental component has always fascinated me, and now I am always pleased to be able to share my story and experience with others.
After the success of last year’s mental health awareness week campaign, I was wondering what I could do this year that would build on it and continue to add value for the readers of this blog.
As I started listening to podcasts such as The Authentic Dating Series, the Sanctus podcast on mental health, The lonely American man, attending talks and hearing people like Kevin Groen speak, I became more aware of issues such as toxic masculinity, and other societal pressure men have to deal with. This got me thinking about the impact it has on their mental health and their ability to talk about it.
Since March we’ve all been thrown into chaos due to COVID19, and the implications of that on our mental health are still being discovered. One of the aspects that’s cause for concern is personal finance, and yet there doesn’t seem to be a lot out there to help us get through it.
It’s absolutely normal to have financial concerns in such uncertain times, whether you lost your job, are not sure how secure your current role is, or are worried about your investments and how to make it through the storm. Or perhaps due to media coverage, you’re worried about whether or not you should buy/sell, if you’re going to lose money, if you should invest at all or what to do if you already have. These are legitimate reactions to have right now, and we’re all experiencing the uncertainty.
Over the summer I listened to a few financial podcasts and was inspired by one particular episode in which the guest was talking about her childhood and how it had deeply affected her relationship with money. This got me thinking about the connection between finance and mental health and how they influence each other, and I decided it was an important topic to cover.
If you think about it, personal finance and mental health are both topics that aren’t really talked about that much. If you want to learn how to manage your finances properly you have to seek out information, but conversations about money can still be considered taboo in certain societies, and no one is ever taught financial literacy. Yet our financial wellbeing has such an impact on our general wellbeing, it strikes me as strange we don’t address it more often.
For this blog post since I don’t have much experience myself, I put out a call for contributions and was fortunate enough to have a few people respond. The following is an interview/guest blog post by Celine who was willing to share her story. I hope you enjoy, and thank you to her for contributing!
Previously I talked about the idea that mental health is bad for your career, in fact busting the myth wide open. But along with this commonplace myth come a load of other issues. Enter: secrecy around mental health at work.
While the topic is gaining momentum, we’re still not in a place where people openly volunteer information about their mental health in the workplace. Thanks to COVID19 I’ve seen the media and employers paying far more attention to mental health, which means companies are looking for ways to address the issue and bring mental wellbeing to the forefront of their agenda. I couldn’t be more excited!
One of the main challenges with mental health and people feeling comfortable speaking up is that there is still a lot of stigma around it. We’ve definitely made progress but we’re not yet in a place where you can openly say to your employer “I suffer from depression” without being afraid of getting fired.
So today I want to address this common myth that mental health is bad for your career and break it down. Why do we believe this, what are the fears and most importantly, how do we overcome it?
This topic is close to my heart as I’ve been unemployed, and have experience with the ups and downs that come with it. Now due to coronavirus things are different: many people have lost their jobs unexpectedly, perhaps overnight or without much warning. This creates difficult conditions in which to be searching for a new job, not to mention the mental health struggles that come with it.
It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post on the topic of mental health at work. Understandably a lot of other things have happened the past few months, but this remains my core area of interest and where I want to break down barriers. I decided it was time I got back to it, and was listening to Esther Perel’s podcast “How’s work” when this topic came to mind.
Wow! A lot has happened in the past few weeks and months. In fact, 2020 has thrown quite a lot at us when it comes to mental health. I’m not the type to write off the year because of that, but I have to acknowledge that it’s come with its challenges and that many people are struggling.
First corona virus hit us hard, and in the past few weeks there have been a lot of uprisings around the world against racism and social injustice after the death of George Floyd. It’s clear to me that these issues and many more are affecting our mental health, they are weighing heavily on us and creating stress. The fact is this isn’t new, many people and especially minorities have borne the burden of their status for decades or even centuries. But it seems that finally this burden is coming to light and prompting new conversations. I can only hope these will also provoke lasting change.
In this context, it felt appropriate to highlight how mental health concerns each and every one of us: mental health is for everyone.
This year I’ve taken a lot more to video for several reasons. Partly, I am more comfortable with it now and it’s an easier format to share as if I were talking to you. Partly because I finally have video editing software that means I can make half decent videos. 😅
Regardless, I was inspired to start a myth busting series around mental health. In these videos I cover the following topics:
If you’ve followed me over the past few years, by now you might have followed bits and pieces of my mental health journey too. It all started with my blog post “living with anxiety“, and since then I’ve gone on to share more via YouTube. Below is a summary:
The theme for this year’s mental health awareness week is kindness, and in light of that I want to talk about the importance of feeling supported when you’re experiencing mental health issues.
The Mental Health Foundation chose this theme because“kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. Wisdom from every culture across history recognises that kindness is something that all human beings need to experience and practise to be fully alive.”
As you may know, it’s always been a goal of mine to break down the stigma around mental health and encourage people to have more open conversations about it. That’s one of the main reasons I continue to share my experience, to help encourage others to open up about their own difficulties.
Now with COVID19 we are going through a public health crisis, but it’s also going to become a mental health one. That’s why it’s so important for us to have mental health conversations.
Most of Europe and the rest of the world has spent at least a month if not longer in various forms of lockdown. From not being allowed out without permission to partial confinement, our reality has changed a lot due to COVID19. With that, we are facing the new reality of spending a lot of time alone, and the implications for our mental health.
This blog post had been in my bank of ideas for a while, and now seems like a fitting time to write it. In case you’re reading this years later or have been living under a rock, right now we’re in the middle of the corona virus crisis. Corona what? Basically, a “flu like” virus that’s gone rogue and is causing havoc (don’t quote me on that scientific description). For a humorous interpretation see the below (in French)
But back to serious business, we are now collectively going through a time of uncertainty. And that can be scary, so what can you do to deal with it?