“When did you last cry?”… a question that Interim Chief Nurse, Steve Forsyth often asks the men he meets. Breaking down barriers and talking about men’s mental health is a topic that Steve is particularly passionate about.
In the following article, Steve draws attention to the many misconceptions and stereotypes about men’s mental health, and how he, and even his children are working to reduce the stigma!
“Good mental health is as important as oxygen… you need it! Over my 26-year long career the stigma associated with men talking about their mental health has sadly always been a taboo. The common misconceptions that it is ‘weak’ to go and collect your anti-depressants from the pharmacy, or ‘weak’ opening up to a therapist or your mates are things I have heard on a regular basis. Depression or poor mental health cannot be willed away, it impacts how we sleep, feel, eat and drink. It also impacts on work life, family, how we interact with friends or our partners.
As much as men can try to mask how they feel, put up a front, or build up those brick walls, you can’t do that forever. It’s exhausting! There is nothing stronger than admitting you need help.
I’ll admit, I have previously avoided those difficult conversations or ran away (literally running 200 miles a week at times). It’s so important to ensure you have an understanding person in your life, it could be a friend, family member, or a partner. I am now in a place where I feel much more confident to express my emotions, by opening up to my partner, Anna, who gives me the space to talk. She makes me comfortable in my vulnerability and I wouldn’t be able to get through the tough times without her.
You might be aware already, but I have three children, they have South Asian, Jamaican, Scottish and English heritage – for many of their Asian and Jamaican relatives, mental health is not overtly discussed. As their dad, I always ensured we spent time talking about their wellbeing.
My son Malachi often experiences discrimination on a daily basis being a Black male and a wheelchair user. Malc is hard to get information out of, but he has his own way of expressing himself. He often communicates with friends online when he plays on Call of Duty, it’s a great way for him to share how he is feeling – some people find it easier to talk online – and that’s okay!
My eldest son, Fabian is a plumber and works in a predominantly male environment. He often brings mental health conversations into his tea breaks (which there are plenty). A small conversation starter about something he has read on the gram (Instagram) or a post he saw about wellbeing. My youngest Neesha always holds us boys to account about how we are feeling and reminds us of the importance of talking openly about what is happening for us.
“Ohh… and to answer my own question on when I last cried, it was just the other day, watching From Scratch on Netflix with my partner – grab your tissues!”
Don’t feel like you have to suffer in silence, there is always someone to listen to you.
Please talk to someone. Call us on 0121 262 3555.
Published: 24 November 2023