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RAW REAL RELATABLE
sPRING '23
trigger warning
ThIS magazine contains
content INCLUDING
THEMES SUCH AS suicide
that readers may find
upsetting.
Photo: Jess Loiterton
2
WELCOME TO MAN DOWN,
We believe our purpose is to break the
stigma that men's mental health isn't
important.
Through men’s voices, stories and
experiences we want to provide a real, raw,
and relatable magazine where vulnerability
and emotions are DISCUSSED IN a safe space.
Cover photo: Jurien-Huggins
3
TABLE OF
CONTENTS
08
28
Bipolar Disorder - An ongoing battle I deal with on a daily basis
How psychologists helped young men from Tottenham open up
Richard Mead - On photography and mental health
Released.
08
40
52
28
40
52
mental health AND THE MIND
BLACK MINDS
ARTS AND CULTURE
WELLNESS AND COPING
4
5
5
55
Photos: Connie Burke
5
men tal health
and the mind
Photo:
Dapo Abideen
with on a
"bipolar is an on
Prescriptions always lead with long and confusing words.
Lithium. Divalproex. Escitalopram. These are just three of
several medications doctors across the world prescribe
patients with bipolar disorder, with each medicine working in
different ways for different reasons. Whether you’re stabilising
your mood, treating hypomania/bipolar depression or fixing
your sleeping pattern, whichever medications patients
decide to use depends on the severity of the symptoms and
in which phase of the illness the patient is in. Bipolar UK’s
most recent up-to-date statistics state that‘1.3 million people
in the UK have bipolar. That is one in fifty people’. Many
people who have bipolar have not been prescribed with
the correct treatment and 60% of people living with bipolar
get no treatment or support for the condition at all. Jason
and Adam are two of the people struggling with this. Jason
uses medication and therapy, and Adam uses only cognitive
behavioural therapy to help them cope with their disorder.
Both of them have a different experience of living with bipolar
and how it affects them.
Bipolar disorder causes shifts in a person’s general mood,
concentration, energy and even carrying out simple everyday
tasks. Symptoms of bipolar come with severe episodes of
either depression or mania, with depression causing a heavy
feeling of lowness and lethargy, whereas mania creates
euphoric highs and overactive reactions. These symptoms are
built upon what mood you’re experiencing in that moment.
The NHS categorises Bipolar in categories - Bipolar I is
predominantly manic episodes lasting a week, and Bipolar II
undiagnosed
people
living
with
bipolar
75%
had
delay
in
diagnos
is
causing
suicidal
thoughts
56%
population
on
bp
spectrum
5%
Does medication
support set back men
with bipolar disorder?
8
going battle i deal
daily basis..."
Are other forms of
coping more
beneficial?
couldn't
correctly
identify
the
condition
50%
coulddn't
correctly
identify
bipolar
disorder
symptoms
75%
adults
affected
by
bipolar
34%
shows a pattern of depressive and hypomanic episodes.
Jason Oosterik was diagnosed with a mild form of bipolar at
just 16 years old. This came after his parents had realised his
constant mood swings were affecting his school performance.
He says:“At first it was difficult to deal with these mood
swings as I didn’t know much at all about the disorder”.
School and sporting events started to become difficult for
Jason as he found it difficult to have the motivation to get
out of bed and face the world. Jason continues:“Living with
bipolar also means that I suddenly would get overjoyed and
have loads of energy, which has led to making poor decisions;
such as regular alcohol use and generally doing things that I
regret later.”
According to Bipolar UK, the onset of hypomania or mania
can include overactivity and impulsive or risky behaviour.
Alcohol and drug use could be seen as a form of coping or
an escape for some.
Jason expresses that after‘a high’his mood can change very
quickly to feelings of sadness and emptiness.“Bipolar is also
very tiring and often makes it hard to socialise for longer
periods of time.”To protect his health, Jason often visited a
therapist who was recommended by his GP. He claims that
it has“helped tremendously”and that he has“learned more
about what I can expect and how to deal with the lows
as well as being able to control the manic phase.”In the
meantime, Jason has also been using an anti-depression
medication called Escitalopram, which is supposed to
regulate mood swings.“This medication has me feeling
9
by Catherine Hayma
very emotionally constipated and it's hard to express my
feelings in the way I’d like to.”
Although medication is meant to help regulate mood swings,
sometimes its side effects can be more overwhelming than
thought. Jason describes his experiences and the struggles
he has faced since childhood:“Bipolar is an ongoing battle
that I deal with on a daily basis, but I have done a lot of
research which has helped me understand what I can do to
help myself. I hate living with Bipolar. At home it was also
difficult in the past as I am the oldest son, my parents had big
plans for me but after failing to pursue these plans due to my
disorder it caused tension and fights as a result of being lazy.”
I asked Jason what advice he would give other men who are
living with bipolar disorder and how best he thinks it is to
cope with it. He confidently says:“I would advise men who
deal with this to educate themselves, there are so many
informative websites that can help. Talking to their GP is also
crucial as a GP can prescribe the appropriate medication. And
lastly, I would strongly encourage men in this situation to talk
about this issue with a trusted someone, a friend, a family
member and definitely to consider visiting a therapist.”
Adam Smith has been attending cognitive behavioural
therapy for 2 years to help cope with his mild to moderate
diagnosis of bipolar disorder at the age of 19. CBT therapy is
focused on identifying unhealthy and negative behaviours
and replacing those with hopeful and healthy ones. It is
known for helping track what triggers the episodes within
people. Adam struggles with unhealthy habits such as
procrastination:“I always try to bring myself to complete a
task. Mainly university work, but when I am in a particular
mood, it is impossible that I will get anything productive
done”. He continues to describe a time where he had
assignments due for university, but ended up watching the
entirety of Star Wars from the very first film, to the most
recent one. Completely ignoring the important things in
his life such as university assignments. But, CBT therapy has
guided Adam to assess his habits and change that:“I find it
often hard to be honest to your therapist about the way you
handle things. But the best thing you can do to help with
your mind is being honest with your therapist to actually
change your ways.”Adam’s therapist suggested small steps
to gradually change his behaviour towards procrastinating:
“I would never manage my time properly which was the
main cause of why I would never get things done,”says
the therapist.“But I have found that planning out all of the
things I have to do throughout the day helps me keep on
progressing to getting those things done”. The topic of
medication came up in conversation to which stern face was
pulled,“Medication never appealed to me…My grandad took
medication for his depression and I saw how much it affected
him. I prefer talking and human contact, it removes that
feeling of loneliness I sometimes feel.”Bipolar has affected
Matthew in ways which distract him from the realities of life.
He often feels as though he is never in a normal state, always
fast and euphoric highs swiftly moving to numbness and
dissociation.
Adam’s piece of advice would be:“The less attention you pay
to it, the more it is going to affect you. You have to face the
truth to protect not only those around you who love you, but
yourself from hurting. Therapy may seem like a scary thing
to commit to, but once you find someone you trust, it gets
so easy to communicate how you're feeling and someone
acknowledges that and listens to you with no judgement but
guidance. Medicine doesn’t work for me, but it could work for
you. Explore your options, be open and honest to your GP or
therapist and work on coping with this.”
Both Jason and Adam have given a strong push for
therapy, as they find it to be most helpful in stimulating
and regulating their mood swings and shifts of behavioural
patterns. Medicine for Jason proved to regulate his mood
but to the point where he wasn’t fully aware or in touch with
his emotions. Since both recommended talking to people
about their bipolar disorder I found a Bipolar Support Group
UK on Facebook. It is a public page on Facebook where
people can join and share their own experiences and
stories with others to support and help one another.
10
Photo:
Vijay Sadasivuni
Founder and administrator of the group, Hazel Parry, has been
running the account for two years, and welcomes all. With 392
members, Hazel’s reasoning for starting the page is inspiring.
She states:“It is important that people who suffer with bipolar
disorder have a comfortable and open environment where
they can either just simply observe and listen, or participate
and share.”With more people talking about how to cope with
Bipolar, hopefully the issue will become less stigmatised in
society.
11
q
u
e
e
r
1
0
1
in partnership with
the proud trust
manchester
12
The Proud Trust Manchester
are hosting a queer men’s
mental health full day
workshop for therapists
and other service providers.
The workshop takes an
exploratory approach
to mental wellness and
unravels specific factors that
therapists, social workers and
educators can use in their
work. Queer men’s mental
Health will be led by Rahim
Thawer.
Thawer, a queer
psychotherapist, will dig into
the issues queer men battle
against which impact their
mental health.
During the workshop,
therapists will identify,
examine and analyse topics,
starting with a‘Mental
Health 101’introduction.
Not to mention a range of
different learning outcomes
such as internalised shame,
body image, substance use
and relationships. It delves
into origins of the topics,
challenges stereotypes and
assumptions additionally
taking a cultural approach to
understand different queer
men’s perspectives.
This event will be beneficial
to anybody that takes an
interest in queer men's
mental health, and will
expand your knowledge on
this important topic.
The event will take place in
Manchester at the Proud
Trust with an early start at
9am.
Photo:
Armin Rimoldi
13
by Catherine Hayma
ADHD
iS IT A 'SUPERPOWER'?
Photo: Jacob Sierra
14
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a
neurodevelopmental condition affecting a significant number of
men in the UK and as every person is unique, it impacts individuals
differently. Some consider this a superpower.
Beautiful ideas getting lost in
time, unruly thoughts taking
their own direction,
imagination filling up the
empty space in the room
and a sudden frustration
taking over as the interest
is gone. Whether familiar to
you or not, people diagnosed
with ADHD probably have
experienced something
similar at least once in their
lifetime.
Analysis of the latest
data from the National
Institute for Health and
Care Excellence shows that
ADHD is more commonly
diagnosed in boys than
girls, and that there are
three different subtypes
of ADHD: The inattentive
type which accounts for
20% to 30% of cases, the
hyperactive-impulsive type
accounting for 15% of cases
and the combined subtype
that accounts for 50% to
75% of cases. This research
highlights the importance
of recognising different
variations of ADHD.
So, with so many various
forms of ADHD, do people
with the condition believe it
to be a superpower?
Kody Lukens, who became an
ADHD advocate after being
diagnosed with it, explains:
“I know that a lot of people
think that ADHD can be a
superpower, because it helps
them. I don’t know if cope is
the right word, but it makes
them feel better about the
downsides of their ADHD.”
After posting a
social media video about
ADHD not always being a
superpower, he received a
significant positive response
from people who felt
supported by his beliefs.“I
feel disabled and not
capable”was one of
the comments from his
Instagram followers. The
follower continued:“I’m so
sick of the word superpower
when I don’t feel
superpowered at all.”
It is true that ADHD can bring
advantages and there are a
lot of successful people with
ADHD who achieve
incredible things, however
focusing only on the
positives can be a misleading
way to approach the
disorder. Restlessness,
impulsiveness, and
irritability are some of the
characteristics of a man
with the disorder. Men with
ADHD can struggle to stay
organised or to prioritise
tasks. They also have
poor planning and time
management skills.
Having these personal traits
can be very challenging
as we live in a world that
requires us to be constantly
focused on tasks and getting
things done quickly. ADHD
people have the most
difficult task which is to find
calm and order within their
chaos. Kody gives some
examples of downsides:
“Doing projects on the
night before they are due
or waiting until dishes pile
up in your sink. And then it
becomes urgent because you
are out of dishes, and you
need to do them”. He adds,
“You can lose things much
more easily and suffer from
emotional stress. ”Whilst the
downsides of hyper focusing
include neglecting other
tasks, the full dedication and
sole focus to a specific task is
something many people do
not possess.
Kody says:“In some
situations this can be
incredibly beneficial if you
are hyper focusing on a work
or a school project or a fun
new hobby.
According to medical
research, hyperfocus can be
described as‘locking on’to
a task.
You can make progress
faster than neurotypical
people in that same frame of
time, so that is a
superpower.
- Kody lukens
15
by Barbara Meneses
Mohammed Ibrahim, 27,
known as Ibz Mo, who was
diagnosed with ADHD,
graduated from both Oxford
and
Cambridge universities
despite the
obstacles. He managed to
inspire other people from
ethnic minorities with ADHD
through his social
media platforms, who
felt that the disorder was
underdiagnosed and
considered a
taboo within their
communities.
Since his childhood he had
always reported to have a
lack of concentration for
schoolwork, having
conversations, performing
tasks and he would always
leave the tasks until the
last minute or not finish
them. He even struggled
with routine tasks such
as brushing his teeth and
sending a text message.
“I have always felt that I
work, behave and think
differently from other
people. I would always find
myself
daydreaming excessively,
making reckless decisions
and I would feel regularly
overwhelmed, experiencing
mood swings,”Ibrahim says.
Although these symptoms
have always been present,
it was not until lockdown
where they became more
evident.“I spent eighteen
months observing myself,
identifying my behaviours
and trying to process my
traumas.”
As a psychology graduate,
Ibrahim shares his
knowledge on ADHD: ”Brain
structure and brain activity
vary significantly from those
who have ADHD and those
who do not have in terms of
brain
development.
When it comes to
brain activity the main
discourse is there are two
neurotransmitters –
dopamine and
norepinephrine that are
at an imbalance, so the
network that carries those
neurotransmitters are not
going to stimulate the right
parts of the brain.”
For this reason, people
with ADHD have difficulty
with performing executive
functioning tasks, having
an impact on every aspect
in life. Since ADHD brains
have low levels of the
neurotransmitter dopamine,
people with ADHD are
wired to lose interest in
some activities faster than
most. The people diagnosed
with ADHD find it easier to
complete activities they have
a low interest in by using a
motivational acronym called
INCUP: interest, novelty,
challenge, urgency, and
passion.
Kody explains:“Those are the
five factors that
motivate ADHD people more
than the significance of the
task, whereas‘importance’
may be the usual motivation
for neurotypical people.
We need those other five
as we lack the motivational
chemical – dopamine.”
ADHD is often mistaken for
laziness which can lead to
anxiety and low self-esteem
in people with ADHD. This
label of‘laziness’contributes
to the ADHD stigma.
Max Davies, ADHD
specialist, explains how
being diagnosed with ADHD
helps him to
perform his profession
well as he can understand
his patients better. In
his opinion,“ADHD is
stigmatised although in
a subtle different way to
other conditions.”Max says:
“Having ADHD can be really
crap, but you are part of the
group of the best people in
the world.”
The lack of support and
the feeling of being
misunderstood can be some
of the biggest challenges
that people with ADHD face,
as they can feel different
from the rest of the society.
This makes it essential to be
selective with the people
who surround them.
Max continued:
“Environmental adaptation
plays an important role.
forgiving yourself
as well as others forgiving
you
is fundamental.
- max davies
16
Supportive colleagues and
family know that you are
going to get distracted while
doing a task but know that
you are trying. You are not
doing because you are lazy
or because you do not care.
It is because you are finding
it hard.”
When asked about the best
approach to deal with ADHD,
the doctor Max highlights
the importance of keeping
the brain as healthy as
possible, advising,“I do not
think it is about having a
remedy. This is what I say to
people in the clinic. Most of
the work is about adapting
the environment including
your
internal environment.”In his
opinion choosing a healthy
lifestyle and prioritising
self-care can the best way to
address ADHD. He says,“If
you sleep well, do exercise,
go outside, keep your mood
as positive as possible, you
will be in a much better
place.”
As easy as it seems, people
with ADHD sometimes
struggle with these
habits. For this reason, it is
important to be
compassionate and kind to
themselves.
When there are bad days,
shifting the attention from
those‘weaknesses’into the
‘strengths’can be a beneficial
strategy. When thinking of
ADHD as a superpower like
this, it can become helpful
and bring hope to continue
the journey. Brilliant minds
that need to be seen
differently. To understand
ADHD minds, it is crucial to
acknowledge how complex
they are and the personal
traits that comes within each
individual.
Photo: Yane Wise
17
why should i be sad?
IN THIS POIGNANT FIRST PIECE, MAN DOWN WRITER NARENT SEJDIJA
BREAKS THE ICE ON THERAPY
Photo:
Bright Winner
18
why should i be sad?
Maybe I had anticipated my very first therapy session for
so long that that it almost felt as if I had trained myself to
be ready for it? Or maybe the anticipation that had been
bubbling for almost a year felt like it was finally going to
burst. Whatever was going on, I definitely wasn’t going to
complain.
Oops, I spoke too soon. As I sat in the waiting room, the
butterflies had emerged and began to swirl whilst I was
choking on my thoughts on all the things that could go
wrong – anxiety can have that affect. “Narent Sejidija?,”a soft
voice said in the corner (my last name is spelled SEJDIJA, but
people tend to butcher how they say it, so they end up saying
something not far off.
It was the therapist. Long black hair and short in height, she
was so sweet and welcoming when I walked with her into the
therapy room. It’s just like you see in movies and shows. Two
chairs opposed to each other, with a small round table in the
middle. The infamous box of handkerchief tissues was placed
on my side, and I knew I would be needing them in the state
I was in. And I was right. Within the space of 20 minutes,
I burst into tears as I recounted to her everything that had
been mostly troubling me – but I still held back on a lot.
In fact, I was a little stunned when my therapist said
something on the lines of 14 sessions, possibly more. But
don’t just take my word for it – even the NHS explain how
a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can run
between 5 – 20 sessions.
But maybe that’s exactly how much I need. After all, I have
waited a really long time to begin the course. But why should
I be sad? After all, I’m one of the lucky (ish) ones. Whilst so
many are stuck on waiting times, I’ve been fortunate enough
to secure a place.
I’m not entirely sure what’s next for my treatment, though I
can probably guess that I’ll have to do a lot more talking. But
I know I’m in safe hands thanks to the wonderful therapist
assigned to me. As the session ended, I felt the weight on my
shoulders become slightly lighter – and I suppose that’s the
purpose of therapy, right?
To our readers, if you’re thinking about taking that step
into therapy, my advice is to go for it. Sure, it’s scary and
completely daunting (like beyond), but I can vouch that it can
be a great avenue to clear your mind and get help.
Blasting Britney’s 2007 album,‘Blackout’, it felt like a typical
morning ritual. Or at least an attempt at making the morning
as normal as possible. After waiting, and waiting, and waiting,
and waiting for almost a year (yes, really) I had finally secured
my very first therapy session provided by the NHS. 9AM sharp
on the first Friday of December 2022. I’ve never really been a
big talker, especially to strangers. Introverted as hell, getting
myself to open up to someone let alone someone who I’ve
one who I’ve never met before, would seem like the most
dare devil task I’ve given myself.
However, that Friday morning, I was as cool as a cucumber.
Or at least tried to be. As I hopped myself on the 31 bus,
the typical butterflies that swirl around my stomach had
seemingly disappeared.“What on earth is going on with me?”
I thought to myself.
I know what you’re thinking, it would seem like the most
terrifying thing opening up to a complete stranger. It is. But
it’s incredibly freeing and liberating. Talking to someone who
holds no judgement, and no attachment, to you is the reason
therapy is therapeutic. Granted, I know that one session
won’t magically cure my problems.
Talkingtosomeonewho
holdsnojudgement,
andnoattachment,toyouis
thereasontherapyis
therapeutic.
-nARENTSEJDIJA
19
“Narent Sejidija?,” a soft voice said in the corner (my last
name is spelled SEJDIJA, but people tend to butcher how
they say it, so they end up saying something not far off.) It
was the therapist. Long black hair and short in height, she
was so sweet and welcoming when I walked with her into
the therapy room. It’s just like you see in movies and shows.
Two chairs opposed to each other, with a small round table
in the middle. The infamous box of handkerchief tissues was
placed on my side, and I knew I would be needing them in
the state I was in. And I was right. Within the space of 20
minutes, I burst into tears as I recounted to her everything
that had been mostly troubling me – but I still held back on a
lot. I know what you’re thinking, it would seem like the most
terrifying thing opening up to a complete stranger. It is.But
it’s incredibly freeing and liberating. Talking to someone who
holds no judgement, and no attachment, to you is the reason
therapy is therapeutic.
Granted, I know that one session won’t magically cure my
problems. In fact, I was a little stunned when my therapist
said something on the lines of 14 sessions, possibly more.
But don’t just take my word for it – even the NHS explain
how a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can run
between 5 – 20 sessions. But maybe that’s exactly how much
I need. After all, I have waited a really long time to begin the
course. But why should I be sad? After all, I’m one of the lucky
(ish) ones.
I felt the weight
on my shoulders
become slightly
lighter.
- nARENTSEJDIJA
Whilst so many are stuck on waiting times, I’ve been fortunate
enough to secure a place. I’m not entirely sure what’s next for
my treatment, though I can probably guess that I’ll have to do
a lot more talking. But I know I’m in safe hands thanks to the
wonderful therapist assigned to me.
As the session ended, I felt the weight on my shoulders
become slightly lighter – and I suppose that’s the purpose of
therapy, right?
To our readers, if you’re thinking about taking that step
into therapy, my advice is to go for it. Sure, it’s scary and
completely daunting (like beyond), but I can vouch that it can
be a great avenue to clear your mind and get help.
20
Photo: Cotton Bro Studios
ALL IN THE MIND
AWARDS IS MAKING
IT’S GRAND RETURN
IN JUNE
CLAUDIA
HAMMOND WILL
BE BACK
HOSTING THE
AWARDS NEXT
MONTH
Presenter Claudia Hammond
and BBC Radio 4 are set to
honour those who have had
an important impact on
mental health at the All In
The Mind Awards.
The ceremony, which will be
held in June, will see three
awards being given to an
individual, professional and
group whose support has
made a real difference to
someone facing a mental
health battle.
Previous winners include
Spectrum People, a
wonderful charity that
provides support for young
people, and GP Dr Celia
Belk, who was nominated
by her patient, Libby Watt,
who made a heart-warming
speech to Belk at the awards
in 2021, cited her as a“true
champion for the NHS… her
going above and beyond has
been a real lifesaver.”
Nominations for the awards
began in November 2022
and concluded at the end
of January this year. A
judging panel will decide
the nine finalists and will be
interviewed by Hammond
on All In The Mind, Radio
4’s magazine programme
on mental health and other
important topics.
Photo:
RODNAE Productions
21
by Narent Sejdija
MYMARRIAGEFAILED.
WHATNOW?
22
Photo: Aнастасия kлимец
by Barbara Meneses
Here are
3 tips from Man Down for
coping with divorce
Divorce can be a challenging time and a draining process emotionally,
physically, and financially. If you're going through a divorce, it's
important to remember that everyone deals with it in different ways and
only you know what your mind and body needs.
Acknowledge your feelings and
emotions
This is a very important one. A survey conducted by Man
Down magazine shows that men struggle to deal with their
emotions and feelings, and this can become a problem in
delaying the healing process. It is totally fine to take the
time to sit with your emotions, to cry if you need to. And
remember to reach out to your friends, family.
Trust the process
Ending a marriage can make you to revaluate all your goals as
the plans have changed.
Just enjoy your life journey and things will eventually fall in
place. Your timing is your
timing. Trust what is coming for you and believe
fearlessly that you deserve the best. Knowing your
values and setting your boundaries will help you to
attract only what is the best for you.
Spend time doing activities you
are passionate about
Doing what you love helps you not only to feel happier
but also to rebuild your confidence. Do not let yourself be
immersed into work and neglecting your self-care moments.
If you are not sure what your favourite hobbies are,
(re)connect with yourself and listen to your heart.
It is just a matter of you knowing what you love doing and
dedicating time to it, whether it is going to gym, being in
contact with nature, meditating or doing anything else that
works for you.
the average
age for UK men to
get divorced is
46
23
CALM
Telephone: 0800 585858
(Campaign Against Living Miserably) was set up to try to reduce the number of
male suicides. It provides online support as well as a telephone helpline available
from 5pm to midnight every day.
MEN'S HEALTH FORUM
Men’s Health Forum is concerned with physical and mental health. It also has a
Beat Stress section specifically for men.
MALE VOICED
Male Voiced supports men who have eating disorders and tries to break down the
stigma around men and eating disorders.
LIFE SIGNS
Life Signs is a self injury support organisation providing information geared
towards men who self-harm.
MEN'S SHED
Men's Sheds is a growing movement enabling mainly men to find friendship and
mutual support through common interests such as carpentry, gardening, car
repairs or model making.
MANKIND
Telephone: 01823 334244
Mankind runs a confidential helpline available to all men across the UK suffering
from domestic violence or domestic abuse by their current or former wife or
partner. Their helpline is open Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm.
RESPECT - MEN'S ADVICE LINE
Telephone: 0808 801 0327
Email: info@mensadviceline.org.uk
Provides a confidential helpline for men experiencing domestic violence from a
partner, ex-partner or family member. They are available to talk Monday to Friday
9am to 8pm.
the best support for you.
24
25
b		lack
m inds
Photo: Brett Sayles
Openness is key when
helping young people be
open about their mental
health. Two psychologists
set up Project Future to work
with young men aged 16-25
involved with gang violence
in the London Borough of
Haringey to engage with
their mental health at the
Bruce Grove youth club. In
September 2022 the Centre
of Mental Health looked at
how they managed to do it.
A common theme you’ll find
throughout this magazine
is how difficult it is for some
men and especially younger
men to open up. Project
Future was designed in a
way to change that. The
psychologists engaged with
the young people‘where
they’re at’meaning they
built relationships with
them far beyond that of a
tottenham open up
how pyschologists
helped young men from
28
therapist and their patient.
Using activities within the
youth club like playing
pool, having a kick-about
or playing PlayStation a
relationship was built before
anything else. The relatability
of the youth workers
resulted in an environment
of complete trust; the
environment of trust created
openness. The young people
involved with Project Future
really valued the work that
the psychologists achieved.
One young person told the
Centre of Mental Health
the organisation who
looked into Project Future’s
effectiveness, that they
could talk to the workers
about“anything that’s going
on, if you need help with
your schoolwork they will
help you, you can talk to
them about something that
happened to you, and they
will listen to you.”Another
said that from Project
Future’s sessions they’ve
learnt they“don’t need to
keep my emotions bottled
up, I can always tell someone
about them... otherwise it
hurts you more than anyone
else.”
Project Future has shown
just how far an organic
environment can help to
not only build relationships
between adults and young
people from diverse
backgrounds but how those
same young people can
begin a relationship with
their own mental health.
By William Bitibiri
m
29
Photo: Edson Diogo
This award is for the
brothers.
Kerry Phillips recognised at the
football blacklist
- Kerry Phillips
Kerry Phillips, founder of
the Saving Souls mental
health football team, was
honoured at the Football
Blacklist Awards 2022.
Phillips picked up the award
for his contributions to
contributions to community
and grass roots through
saving souls.
The Football Blacklist,
founded in 2008 by sports
journalists Leon Mann and
Rodney Hinds, highlights
leaders working across all
areas of the game from the
Black community.
A panel of experts drawn
from the football industry
and the Black community
independently vote on
nominations made by the
public to determine who
makes the list.
The panel included
representation from the
Premier League, The
Football Association, League
Managers Association,
English Football League,
PGMOL, BCOMS and Kick It
Out.
Kerry said“It’s mad because
you never know who’s
watching so to be recognised
for the hard work you do
just makes you want to keep
going
This Award is for the
brothers.”
See more from Saving Souls
on page 56.
Photo: Hallie Primus
30
by William Bitibiri
31
awndywrld
awndyday
awndymp4
into the undrgrnd
welcome to
An exclusive spotlight on writer, wndy, who shares the
in’s and out’s of his website.
mandown x wndy
32
AWNDYWRLD is an escape for me to express myself “freely” as I battle
with whether or not to follow a “corporate” or “creative” career path.
The site is also a “third time lucky” attempt of two previous blogs I’ve
had in the past. Again, corporate or “creative”.
if anything has been
consistent about my life, it’s
the inconsistency of it.
“AWNDYDAY”
It is a 30 day journaling challenge I started in lockdown which
carried on for 3 years.
If anything has been consistent about my life, it’s the
inconsistency of it. I went to 10 schools and moved homes
about 16 times, (SE, SW, E, Essex, Leeds, Manchester,
Nigeria). So as a result I get bored of things very easily.
Over lockdown, I needed to solve this issue so I challenged
myself to write a page a day in a journal for 30 days and I
just never stopped. I also used this to substitute my website
at the time,“awindyday.co.uk”, because really and truly I
just wanted to write and avoid the technical Wordpress and
SEO stuff. But after two years we’re back again. My concept
is: to write a page about whatever is going on in my head
at the time, could be absolutely anything. Initially it was
simply a way to build discipline but has now spiralled into
the main foundation of my mental health and built a level
of self awareness in me that I find priceless. However, now,
a couple days without journaling usually leads to a series of
unfortunate events.
“AWNDYMP4”
I bought a camcorder for £10 on Facebook Marketplace. I
started recording random events in my life. Then one day I felt
like playing around with one of the video on iMovie.
There’s a feeling of stress relief you get when you’re creating
something that you can’t really compare to a massage or
a zoot. One day I had a burnout and needed some sort of
antidote. And with me always looking for a new project, I
decided to try editing a video on my camcorder. My concept
is: find a video on the camcorder and think of a song that
would work with it. The song for me is the most important
part of the video. Through all my moving around, besides God,
music is the only thing that has never left my side. So music
is usually incorporated in most of the work I do. Which brings
me to my final pillar.
“UNDRGRND”
I listen to way too much music but the UK Underground
scene is where my heart currently lies. So this section of the
website is simply to shed light on artists that I think everyone
needs to give a chance.
I always say the best time to catch an artist is at the start of
their career because that’s when the art is most authenticand
songs hit most, for the most part. However, the start of the
journey is usually under-appreciated or goes under the rdar
entirely. Now, the UK“underground”scene is starting to grow
rapidly with artists like A2, Knucks, Bawo and others hitting
their stride, that I think it would be an absolute waste for
so much talent and creativity to go unacknowledged. Plus
the amount of music I listen to (more than 99.5% of the UK
according to Spotify), I have this habit of trying to force new
music onto people, so I guess this way may be a bit more
effective in the long run. My concept is: put people on GREAT
MUSIC.
In the grand scheme of things, the website is a combination
of all my previous attempts to add value to the world in one
place. From my failed blogs in the past to my day to day
mistakes and challenges in life. When it’s all said and done, all
I hope when people visit the site is that they are able to take
something valuable away that could be used in their life.
-w
- W
33
<piece of mind or peace of mind>
When I was younger I used to know exactly
what I wanted for myself. My ambition
and “conviction” for what I wanted could
never be shifted then life crept in. The
issue when life creeps in is that it
tries to get us to think that we want
something different for ourselves than
what we really do. Or, you get so caught
up in the game of life that you almost
“forget” what you initially wanted. And
the truth is, when you have no idea what
you're working towards that's when we
become more susceptible to depression.
Some people use the word “purpose”, I
use the word “mission”. If you haven’t
got one it becomes difficult to find a
reason to get out of bed. Sometimes we
have to ask ourselves if we’re living or
existing. And most of the time, we’re
just existing, waiting for the next best
thing to catch our attention and keep us
entertained for a period of time.
I can only speak for myself, but I
believe my body has always known the
direction it wants to go. When I’m on
this path, I feel most at “peace”. But
for whatever reason it may be, sometimes,
life can tricks me into thinking the
peace I have isn’t deserved or isn’t
enough, so I exchange peace for chaos,
maybe in search of something a bit more
“exciting” when the truth is you’ll still
find yourself coming back in search of
“peace” again.
Now peace doesn’t mean happiness. You
can be peaceful, but there is no limit
to happiness, you will always be in
search of more. However, you can be at
peace without necessarily being happy,
for example, a passing of a friend won’t
fill you with joy but you can come to
peace with the fact that they are in a
better place.
When it comes to this “mission”, I
have left it 3 times before in search
of more “happiness” elsewhere, only to
find myself naturally gravitating back
to where I found the most peace, peace
in the sense of “it just feels right”.
And I feel like we all have that one
thing that we spend time doing that just
feels “right”. Something we can work
towards for hours on end that wouldn’t
necessarily make sense to the outside
world but makes the most sense to you.
The chances are if you spend enough
time being at peace, you’ll find what
your “mission” is, because that’s when
we feel most like ourselves, as opposed
to the person who’s identity has been
corrupted by the “he says…” and “she
says…” of this world.
At the end of the day, why would you
trade a piece of your mind for your
peace of mind?
Excerpt from the website
34
35
Photo: WNDY
36
Photo: Connie Burke
37
arts and
d culture
Photo:
Aleksandr Neplokhov
Richard Mead, Elephant and Castle // Photo: Sam Shaw
RICHARD MEAD -
ON PHOTOGRAPHY
AND MENTAL HEALTH
40
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TAKING PHOTOS?
I’ve taken photos since I was a kid, and my dad was a film
photographer. My grandparents were film photographers,
so it kind of runs the family. But since I started doing my
bachelors in it, I have started taking it seriously.
WHAT MAKES YOU ADVOCATE FOR MENTAL
HEALTH?
When I was 19, I joined the police force. But I had quit by 25
due to the lack of support. An incident in 2014 caused me
to have PTSD, and it took seven years to get diagnosed for
it, and I’ve been on the waiting list since 2021 to have the
counseling.
I’ve used like Mind, Samaritans, and the Campaign Against
Living Miserably, I have spoken to them quite a lot as well. I
also managed to partner my old university with CALM and the
National Centre for Domestic Violence to get more support for
students. But when I left that fell apart. The reason I continue
to do all of this though is because I have seen how bad it can
be basically.
HAVE YOU FOUND THAT PHOTOGRAPHY IS A
GOOD WAY TO HELP WITH MENTAL HEALTH
ISSUES?
It is very theraputic for me. So one of my recent projects was
on the body, which helped me cope with my appearance.
Another one came after being jumped in December. They
broke my glasses and as I don’t deal with confrontation still
due to the PTSD, I broke down and started drinking heavily.
I ended up saying to myself,“why not make a project out of
this?”, so I started to document my recovery every day as a
coping mechanism. I did this as a major project for my BA,
and called it“Road To Recovery.”
DO YOU THINK THAT PHOTOGRAPHY IS MORE
HEALING THAN WRITING FOR YOU?
It’s a combination. It’s a combination because whenever you
take a photo, there’s, there’s gonna be a caption to the photos.
But on hard days only photography will get me out of the
house. I’ll go the camera and I’ll shoot stuff.
WHAT MEDIUM DO YOU LIKE TO SHOOT WITH
AT THE MOMENT?
I am really into doing film photography as well now which is
great. I think because you have to think about it more it just
takes your mind off what you’re struggling with.
Limiting your shooting to 36 shots can really get you in a
better zone and make you focus more on your shooting.
And then you come and process it, and it is like a healing
process again, you are creating something from start to finish.
My emotions are on that film, you can see I have had to think
about it more. It is a much more physical thing than just
shooting digital, and I have shot some things before where I
just wasnt bothered about the end result of it. Film is much
different in that sense.
IN CONCLUSION, HOW HAS PHOTOGRAPHY
HELPED YOU?
Well simply put, even if I don’t do anything with the photos,
the fact that I’ve got out and I got fresh air, I’ve brought out
my camera, I’ve done something that’s not just stagnating my
room with a bottle of Captain Morgan! So the process in the
activity is something I enjoy, it gets me out.
TURN OVER TO LOOK AT RICHARD'S LATEST
PROJECTS ------->
HERE AT MAN DOWN,
WE BELIEVE EVERY MAN
SHOULD BE HEARD. THIS IS
RICHARD MEADS’ STORY.
I WAS GOING THROUGH IT
SO I JUST ESCAPED TO THE
MOUNTAINS WITH MY NAN,
AND ONE OF MY PROJECTS WAS
MADE THERE.
- Richard mead
41
by Sam Shaw
ARTIFICIAL
AESTHETICS
For this project Richard shot a set of photographs
and wrote their descriptions into DALL.E 2, an AI
software that can create images from descriptions.
The more descriptive you are in describing what you
want, the more accurate the result will be.
These were the AI results from“Blackpool Pier”, the
photo covering the page.
AI rendition #1
“I am using this project as a way of rethinking my
relationship with AI. PTSD means I get fixated on
stuff, and I got fixated on hating AI in this istance.
So I am trying to reprogram my brain into not
hating it.”- Richard Mead
42
AI rendition #2 AI rendition #3
43
MUSIC
AND
THE
MIND
MUSIC
AND
THE
MIND
Photo: Secret Night Gang
“IT IS EXTREMELY HARD
“I have suffered from mental
health issues yes. I didn’t get
any help from the creative
industry at the time, it was
my friends that got me
through it. I am also very
lucky to have had help from
fantastic therapist, who I
have spoken to for almost
20 years on and off. I don’t
know what I would do
without him.”
These are the words of
Johnny Butler, a Grammy
Award winning New-York
based saxophonist. Butler
has been through both the
bad and the good times of
being in the music industry.
But unfortunately, stories like
Butlers’own mental health
struggles are nothing new.
Wind the clock back 27 years,
you land in 1994. This was
the year Kurt Cobain, front
man of Nirvana, sadly died
of suicide. Unfortunately,
this was another solemn
moment in a long line of
male mental issues health
struggles.in the music
industry.
Move forward to the present
Mental health problems in the music industry have long been
an issue. But what is being done at a higher level to support
male musicians who are battling with their mental health?
by Sam Shaw
and the problem has not
gone anywhere. Artists like
Avicii and Mac Miller sent
huge shockwaves through
the music industry upon their
deaths, in an all too familiar
scenario. A Swedish based
publication released a study
in 2019 that had alarming
results – it revealed that a
staggering 73 percent of
independent musicians have
battled stress, anxiety, and
depression.
So even with
studies concluding there is a
huge
problem, the question still
seems to stay the same –
where is the
support?
Johnny Butler gave
Man Down his
opinion on this.“I do not
think it’s easy to get
support as an artist.
There’s a common
belief that artists get to
do what they love,
they’re free and that life is
easy – that’s simply not the
case. Creative work is hard,
you have bosses, deadlines,
tonnes of pressure, and it can
be mundane at times. It is
extremely hard to survive as
an artist, you have to have a
driving desire to keep doing
it or you will quit.”
But how does the pressure
of the music industry effect
up and coming artists that
are relatively new into the
industry?
In steps Kemani Anderson,
the lead singer and co-
founder of Secret Night
Gang. Secret Night Gang
(Or S.N.G as they like to be
called) are a Manchester
based ensemble that came
onto the music scene
four and a half years ago.
Anderson told Man Down of
the challenges the modern
music industry has thrown at
Secret Night Gang so far.
“The music game, well, it's
not the easiest. You're going
to go through times where
like you're loving what you're
doing and there's not a thing
that an get in the way of it.
But then there's also parts of
it where you're going to feel
like your music isn't good
enough. It's kind of like a
push and pull kind of thing.”
What Anderson describes as
a“push pull”relationship is a
feeling felt by many relatively
new artists to the industry
and is expressed similarly by
Butler.
The highs and lows for new
artists in the industry are
defined in many more ways
now than ever before - this is
in part thanks to the stressful
factors like algorithm bias
from streaming platforms
that are bias to boosting
Photo Credit: Kemani Anderson
46
TO SURVIVE as AN ARTIST”
Photo: Artem Podrez
the more famous artists out
there, amongst a range of
other pressures from the
modern music industry.
However, one thing that
remains the same in the
modern music industry is
for musicians to be able to
express their emotions within
their music, as Anderson
explains.
“The best way for me to
express my emotions is
through the music, whether
it's because of the lyrical
content or something else.
I think that there's ways to
like kind of deal with the
pressures quite well.”
Both Butler and Anderson
seem to share the opinion
that the music industry is a
stressful place and can have
Photo:
Spencer Ostrander
a toll on mental health. But
how are these thoughts
seen by a leader in the music
business?
The answer comes from
Simon Harris, one of the
co-creators of Minds on Fire.
Minds On Fire is a music
publishing company based in
London.
Harris gave Man Down some
insight into the mental
health difficulties that both
newer and older musicians in
the industry can face.
“Not being well known and
being well known can both
be difficult to cope with.
Different pressures on each.
One in 10 signed artists will
have success, so that’s nine
artists that will be dropped.
47
The pressure to succeed will
be difficult for some to cope
with.”
by Sam Shaw
Photo: Myah Jeffers
Photo: National Theatre
Othello returned to the stages this year with an extraordinary
production. Directed by Clint Dyer with a cast featuring actors
from Hamilton and The Alienist, Shakespeare fans were treated
to one of the theatre events of the year.
The production is now making its way to select cinemas around
the country. Screening starts on the 13th May in Norfolk and
continues across the country. This is your chance to get a look
into the troubled world of Othello on the big screen.
Othello is one of the key productions Shakespeare wrote in
his lifetime, and reproductions of the play have consistently
brought up the debate of male mental health, so much so that
the mental health issues Othello exhibits in the play has given
the name to Othello Syndrome.
The National Library of Medicine categorizes Othello syndrome
as a psychotic disorder characterized by delusion of infidelity or
jealousy.
So, for your chance to delve into the troubled mind of Othello
portrayed by the wonderful Giles Terera be sure to check if
there are any screenings near you. It is not one to be missed.
Othello:
Giles Terera
Takes on the
Mind
48
Mental health check in:
Freely express how you feel in the box below
49
wellness and
copi ng
Photo: Monstera
Everyone knew me as the
footballer, so when I lost that,
I’d say I lost myself.
Joshua Duyile is now 20
years old, working for his
dad’s local business. Working
for his dad is some distance
from playing wide right for
Queens Park Rangers but it’s
reality, nonetheless.
Like most young boys, Josh
had a dream of making it
as a Professional footballer.
At 13 those dreams were
shattered when he was
released from QPR, the
team he had been at since
aged nine.“I remember it
not being a surprise. We all
went on a residential trip to
Greece in the summer and it
was just a feeling I had; the
coaches started to treat me
different, so I knew it was just
inevitable.”Says Josh.
“We had a meeting at the
training ground with a
couple of the coaches and
my parents. It wasn’t even a
long meeting; they gave their
reasons, and it was pretty
much done. I didn’t even
feel some kind of way in that
moment, I was just thinking
about that journey back and
what my mum or dad would
say, I let them down.
Josh isn’t alone in feeling
pressure from his parents
to succeed at academy
level, according to a 2022
study, nearly 60% of youth
footballers from 29 male
football academies around
the world, including Europe,
South America, Africa, and
Asia agreed with the notion
that parents‘placed too
much pressure on their
sons to succeed’. That kind
of pressure takes a toll on
young minds.
In 2015 it was revealed by the
FA that only 0.5% of players
that have been scooped up
by professional academies at
aged nine make it to the first
team of that football club.
Josh was part of the 99.95%
that didn’t.
“Footballers talk about
scrutiny when they’re
professional, but that’s not
where all of that begins. You
can see it now; some fans
know about some of the
talents that they have at their
club at under-12s – there’s no
other job like it!”
“Because of that kind of
attention clubs put you in a
kind of bubble while you’re
in the academy, that’s where
they really look after you.
They can get you the boots,
you have the training kit, and
you going into school and
you’re the man. And going
to places like school you
think you’re the man because
at home the pressure
is different, my parents
treated me as the next best
footballer and were strict
with it. At school, I was like
a king socially, none of it felt
real but I enjoyed that side of
it. When I got released, just
like that it was over – in my
head at least.”
Jeremy Witsen unfortunately
took his own life in 2020
days after he had turned
18, shortly after being
released by Manchester
City. Following that came an
inquest with a number of
Premier League clubs looking
inwardly at what they should
be doing better to ensure
similar tragedies are not
repeated.
Crystal Palace have led
the way in terms of their
player care initiatives as
their revolutionary player
care department will ensure
players are released from the
academy get an extended
period of intervention by
the club. The news pricked
the ears of psychological
practitioner Emmet Colville
relea
52
e who took the time to study
Crystal Palace’s football
dreams: The Academy
documentary.
“After watching the
documentary, I was intrigued
as to who was helping these
players talk about what really
matters.”He said.
Emmet’s very wary
of suggestions that
Sport provides the best
environment for young men
to express their feelings
“Football and sports in
general can be a huge tool
in connecting us,”he adds.
“But I don’t think it’s as
useful as it can or maybe
should be. I found that
while there were a lot of
discussions about feelings
there wasn’t explicit
sharing of intimate private
experiences.”
“There was one episode that
I found interesting where
a young boy found that he
played better when his dad
wasn’t allowed to watch.
The club recognised that
and instructed the father
to stay away during games
to stop heaping pressure
on his boy. There was no
broadcasted conversation
one on one with that boy to
understand why it created
a better environment and
that’s the next step.”
Asked what players needed
to become more aware
of their feelings through
football, the answer was
teaching“psychological
flexibility”.
“That comes from actually
accepting what you’re feeling
as a player then actively
consciously committing to
changing it. But there’s the
problem, at academy level
when you have to naturally
think about how you’re
perceived all the time, that
isn’t easy.”
Times are changing though,
the Premier League does
have a commitment to
“overseeing the holistic
development of academy
players,”says Farai Hallam,
academy support officer at
the Premier League.
“A big part of being
holistically successful is
managing mental health. We
provide awareness but more
importantly support during
challenging times.”
One thing the Premier
League are keen to highlight
is the power of language
and how that goes on to
impact younger boys and
ased.
Photo:
Abigail Keenan
53
their careers.“The word
release has such a negative
connotation, to a point
to some boys it can be
traumatic as it can take
you back to that moment
so we’re trying to change
the language being used at
academies.”
“So, you are‘leaving the
club or graduating from
the academy system’rather
than being‘released’ I was
released, I definitely know
the feeling of having to tell
people that. Of course, you
feel like a failure – changing
the narrative is so important.”
For Farai, the key to allowing
young boys to cope is
changing their perception of
success and he closed with a
poignant message to young
men.
“It’s important we equip
young men with the
knowledge that success isn’t
rigid, happiness isn’t found
in that one thing or that one
dream, real success is the
journey and the man you
become once that is all over.”
by William Bitibiri
“MEN WITHOUT
MASKS” RETREAT
Embarking on a journey
of self-discovery with a
retreat organised by Men
Without Masks can be a
transformative experience.
Men Without Masks offers
retreats throughout the
year. The next upcoming
5-day retreat in May 2023,
allows men to discuss the
pressures they face and how
strong they are together as a
community group.
Organised by Craig White,
a high-performance coach
who works together with a
team of psychotherapists
and mental health
experts, the retreat gives
the opportunity to men
to reconnect to parts
of themselves that are
hidden or denied through
practicing mindful
activities, spending time in
nature and eating healthy
meals.
A retreat that offers a safe and confidential environment to every man who needs
support and is looking for a sense of purpose.
Daniel says this experience
has helped him after going
through an existential crisis:
Daniel Granger, 39,
a hairdresser from
Southampton participated in
one of the retreats.
“I lived with suicide, it was
just a part of me,”Daniel
says“My father and brother
died by suicide. I have
always thought it would
be my destiny. I wanted to
overcome those challenges
with the help of Men Without
Masks.
I did not want to rely on
medication.”
Daniel says“My father and
brother died by suicide. I
have always thought it would
be my destiny. I wanted to
overcome those challenges
with the help of Men Without
Masks.
I did not want to rely on
medication.”
The next retreat takes place
May 16-20 in the Yorkshire
Dales, a place known for its
natural beauty. The price
starts with £2000 varying
according to the chosen
accommodation.
For more information, visit
menwithoutmasks.com or
follow on Instagram
men_withoutmasks.
I watched my
mask come off
and I watched
other men’s
masks come off.
We found a nice
mutual well-
being amongst
men. It was
beautiful.
54
by Barbara Meneses
55
Photo: Jan Krnc
Saving
Souls
FC
Saving
Souls
FC
56
Kerry Phillips, the man that built a mental health
football team talks to William Bitibiri
When Ian wright is your uncle and you have Shaun and Bradley
Wright Phillips as your cousins, naturally you are in for a best-in-
class footballing education.
When those family ties take you into a lifetime of following
Arsenal football club around the country, some may disagree,
but Kerry Phillips took those lessons, combined them with an
awareness for his mental health to create a space for men to
improve their mental wellbeing with Saving Souls Football club.
“Football is one of them where it’s acceptable to cry, I’ve cried
because of football”. Bearing in mind Kerry is a 36-year-old
black man from south London, this should be an outrageous
statement. At least it would be to someone who doesn’t get it,
I get it – as a football fan who follows his own team – I know the
feeling. Kerry goes on to set a scene, “Imagine it’s the Champi-
ons league final and Arsenal are playing,” It’s then I realised that
the scenario being laid in front of me was a dream scenario,
nonetheless I let him continue. “Bukayo Saka goes up to take
the penalty that he has to score to keep Arsenal in the game,
and he misses, God forbid, you see a man cry and you cry with
him, it’s acceptable”.
Anyone lucky enough to have seen their team compete at the
highest level can truly empathise with that feeling. That conver-
sation with Kerry took my mind back to one of the Champions
League most iconic moments, the famous Italian referee Pierlui-
gi Collina picking up a distraught Sammy Kuffour after the
Bayern Munich defender had seen his side ship two late goals
against Manchester United at the Nou Camp in 1999. Kuffour
threw a baby-like tantrum and couldn’t control his emotions.
Nobody ridicules Kuffour for that, we all just understood – that’s
what football does and that’s what Kerry wanted to capture as
he created a football team.
It was Lockdown and Kerry was feeling low and anxious
and insecure – feelings that were alien before the pan-
demic. A thing that most of us could relate to, he called
friends to catch up with them in a time where they
couldn’t meet face to face. It was those conversations
that laid the foundations of Saving Souls. “Men don’t
speak about what really matters anyway,” says Kerry.
“So, during Lockdown it was just us making light-hearted jokes
like ‘do you feel like you’re struggling?’, ‘do you feel a bit weird?’
– the answers were ‘yeah, I’m feeling a bit weird, but it is what it
is’ but then it all really started to affect me.
I was always a person who just got on with things, I was rarely
anxious, but for me to be feeling this way I knew there was
something I needed to do – I needed to provide a space.”
The space that Kerry provided is Saving Souls. The Cat-
ford-based club’s foundations are built on creating an open
environment for men to come together in the name of football
to drive conversations about mental health. It’s free to play for
Saving Souls as “it’s about giving more than taking,” said Kerry.
“We’ve had over a hundred different men involved and we offer
a release through sport. If energy to release, you might release it
at home, on the way to work, or while you’re at work. We have to
find you a place to offload. here’s a lot of things that men don’t
speak about, or don’t get the opportunity to speak about, be-
cause there’s not really many spaces around to speak about it.”
Saving Souls is an award-winning football club, recognised in
2022 as the London FA Grassroots project of the year and are
current champions of the South London Grassroots football
league but for Kerry, the forum that he’s created is his biggest
achievement.
“The most important thing is the forum because when you’ve
been comfortable and meeting the new people that you have,
It’s a lot more easier to speak about any issues that you’re going
through, because you’ve actually built a relationship with peo-
ple as opposed to just meeting somebody new and saying, I’m
going to talk to you about everything I’m going through and
that’s bigger than anything we can do.” Said Kerry.
Pride filled Kerry’s face when I asked him about the real impacts
that he’s seen saving souls have, he came ready with the testi-
monials, and rightly so.
One man said “Saving souls gave me a platform to play football
where it’s convenient, and it’s a good community with good
people saving souls, and maybe fall in love with football again,
and being able to network with new people”
Another said “The team has helped me a lot with my mental
health, as when I’m home I get a lot of negative thoughts, and
they’ve given me a platform to take those negative thoughts
away”.
What’s next for Saving Souls? Kerry hopes to expand beyond
football as the organisation has announced a Women’s Martial
arts club to see greater change in his community. Kerry knows
there’s still work to be done.
Kerry Phillips, the man who built a mental health
football team talks to William Bitibiri
When Ian wright is your uncle and you have Shaun and
Bradley Wright Phillips as your cousins, naturally you are in for
a best-in-class footballing education.
When those family ties take you into a lifetime of following
Arsenal football club around the country, some may disagree,
but Kerry Phillips took those lessons, combined them with an
awareness for his mental health to create a space for men to
improve their mental wellbeing with Saving Souls Football
club.
“Football is one of them where it’s acceptable to cry, I’ve cried
because of football”. Bearing in mind Kerry is a 36-year-old
black man from south London, this should be an outrageous
statement. At least it would be to someone who doesn’t get
it, I get it – as a football fan who follows his own team – I
know the feeling. Kerry goes on to set a scene,“Imagine it’s
the Champions league final and Arsenal are playing,”It’s
then I realised that the scenario being laid in front of me was
a dream scenario, nonetheless I let him continue.“Bukayo
Saka goes up to take the penalty that he has to score to keep
Arsenal in the game, and he misses, God forbid, you see a
man cry and you cry with him, it’s acceptable”.
Anyone lucky enough to have seen their team compete at
the highest level can truly empathise with that feeling. That
conversation with Kerry took my mind back to one of the
Champions League most iconic moments, the famous Italian
referee Pierluigi Collina picking up a distraught Sammy
Kuffour after the Bayern Munich defender had seen his side
ship two late goals against Manchester United at the Nou
Camp in 1999. Kuffour threw a baby-like tantrum and couldn’t
control his emotions. Nobody ridicules Kuffour for that, we all
just understood – that’s what football does and that’s what
Kerry wanted to capture as he created a football team.
It was lockdown and Kerry was feeling low and anxious and
insecure – feelings that were alien before the pandemic. A
thing that most of us could relate to, he called friends to catch
up with them in a time where they couldn’t meet face to face.
It was those conversations that laid the foundations of Saving
Souls.“Men don’t speak about what really matters anyway,”
says Kerry.
“So, during lockdown it was just us making light-hearted
jokes like‘do you feel like you’re struggling?’, ‘do you feel a bit
weird?’– the answers were‘yeah, I’m feeling a bit weird, but it
is what it is’but then it all really started to affect me."
I was always a person who just got on with things, I was rarely
anxious, but for me to be feeling this way I knew there was
something I needed to do – I needed to provide a space.”
The space that Kerry provided is Saving Souls. The Catford-
based club’s foundations are built on creating an open
environment for men to come together in the name of
football to drive conversations about mental health. It’s free
to play for Saving Souls as“it’s about giving more than taking,”
said Kerry.
“We’ve had over a hundred different men involved and we
offer a release through sport. If energy to release, you might
release it at home, on the way to work, or while you’re at
work. We have to find you a place to offload. here’s a lot of
things that men don’t speak about, or don’t get the opportu-
nity to speak about, because there’s not really many spaces
around to speak about it.”
Saving Souls is an award-winning football club, recognised in
2022 as the London FA Grassroots project of the year and are
current champions of the South London Grassroots football
league but for Kerry, the forum that he’s created is his biggest
achievement.
“The most important thing is the forum because when
you’ve been comfortable and meeting the new people that
you have. It’s a lot more easier to speak about any issues
that you’re going through, because you’ve actually built
a relationship with people as opposed to just meeting
somebody new and saying, I’m going to talk to you about
everything I’m going through and that’s bigger than anything
we can do.”Said Kerry.
Pride filled Kerry’s face when I asked him about the real
impacts that he’s seen saving souls have, he came ready with
the testimonials, and rightly so.
One man said“Saving Souls gave me a platform to play
football where it’s convenient, and it’s a good community
with good people saving souls, and maybe fall in love with
football again, and being able to network with new people”
Another said“The team has helped me a lot with my mental
health, as when I’m home I get a lot of negative thoughts, and
they’ve given me a platform to take those negative thoughts
away”.
What’s next for Saving Souls? Kerry hopes to expand beyond
football as the organisation has announced a Women’s Martial
arts club to see greater change in his community. Kerry knows
there’s still work to be done.
there's a lot that men don’t get
the opportunity to speak about,
because there’s not many
spaces. - kerry phillips
57
Saving souls fc
through a lens
58
59
Photos: William Bitibiri
BREATHING
SPACE
The firefighters of the UK have one of the hardest jobs in the public sector, and with the
image of firefighters being of brave and heroic, how do men in the sector get a chance to
show vulnerability?
The stress of being part of the Fire and Rescue Service in
London is no easy feat. It is reported that on a normal day, the
number of calls received can be between 350 – 500.
Once one of these calls comes in, it is then the job of the
Officer in Control at the station to respond to the situation the
best they can and try to reassure the person on the other end
of the line. Man Down spoke to Rebecca Dingvean, the Officer
in Control at one of London’s fire stations, to get an insight
into the stress this can cause once the phone is picked up.
“For us it’s just a different set of resilience. I think for
firefighters, they can use pretty much all their senses. We are
behind a screen and that can be a bit tough for our people in
control.”
Unlike firefighters, Officers in Control do noy get as full of a
picture as they would want. This makes the job even trickier in
some cases, as Rebecca explains.
“When someone’s screaming down the phone at you, you’re
not quite sure what’s going on and your imagination can
sometimes be 10 times as worse as the reality of what it is.
Also, in some cases people don’t make it. And the line goes
quiet, and you never get an answer from whatever happens.
You don’t get the end result because you’re not there.”
This will take a heavy toll on the mental health of the Officer
in Control. Not knowing what to do or what has happened in
a heated situation means that they do not get the answers
they need.
Photo: Tobias Rahbein
60
by Sam Shaw
“WE RATE OUR
MENTAL HEALTH
FROM
But what toll does it take on the fire crew at the front line?
Mark Smith of the London Fire Brigade tells us more about
what goes on after they have responded.
“Nine times out of 10 we will try to allow the crew 10 minutes
out of the room just to kind of gather themselves, have
somebody with them, just make sure that they’re okay,
get that adrenaline down. But the reality is if we’re getting
multiple calls, you just have to go straight into another call
and focus on something else.”
It is no overstatement then to say that a lot of mental
dexterity and toughness is required throughout every section
of the fire service. But when it becomes too much, a solution
has to be given.
Walk and Talk 999 is a group aiming to solve the mental
health problems men in the fire service are facing. Set up by
a group from LFB the group provides a safe space for men to
talk about their troubles with other members of the services.
Rebecca Dingvean says“Understanding of equality can be
quite different for different people. I think (LFB) were a bit
nervous around the fact that it was men. Men in general are
often left out of the equality support side of things. So we
want to shine a light on this.”
Annabel Green, a Sub Officer for LFB and Walk and Talk 999
founder, told us how the group has now snowballed into
being much more than just a space for firefighters.
“We started off just wanting to help firefighters and then it
was the MET enjoyed the idea too. The London ambulance
enjoyed the idea as well, so it really was like, that’s when walk
and talk became Walk and Talk 999. And that’s why if you see
our symbol, we’ve got the red, the blue, and the green. We’ve
got the siren that we all share.”
The group has really taken off across the country since it
began, with walks now taking place in other cities such as
Sheffield. Mark Smith outlined just what happens on one of
the walks that takes place.
“So we go around and we start off by giving some kind of
rules and regulations, saying that everything that’s said here
is confidential. Then we go around and we rate our mental
health from one to 10, one being the lowest and 10 being the
highest. Once we’ve done that, then we go off for a walk.”
The walks take place in quiet areas in natural surroundings.
Mark tells Man Down what effect this has after the walk
finishes.
“Everybody is usually feeling better than they were just
getting out in nature, just walking around the suns out, just
not having your phone in front of you for an hour just to, to
talk.”
If you or anyone you know is a member of the emergency
services and wishes to get involved, drop Walk and Talk a
message.
Photo: Walk&Talk999
Logo: Walk & Talk 999
1
TO
10
61
A LOOK INTO THE TROUBLING
NHS WAITING TIMES
Frustration. That’s the only word me and millions of others
have year after year.
Data from the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that one in
four mental health patients are being forced to wait 12 weeks
to begin treatment - a real kick in the teeth. Why? Why are
the waiting times so incredibly high? Why have the services
been impacted so heavily in the last few years? Is the entire
blame shifted onto the global pandemic or is that just an
excuse for the disastrous Conservative government - who’ve
managed to dismantle the NHS since they’ve been in power.
John-Barry, a mental health nurse, believes the latter to be the
case.
“Simple answer is long term underfunding and a lack of
resources. There has been a consistent drop in mental health
beds for a long time, and the NHS only admits patients who
are emergency cases,” he said. The 42-year-old, who pursued
his career in mental health after being inspired by his parents
who were also mental health nurses, said that this crisis
leads to those with mental health problems being placed on
waiting lists.
He continued:“All research shows that early intervention is
key to good outcomes for mental health problems, but we
are doing the direct opposite to that at the moment.” And
John certainly thinks that the Conservative government are to
blame for the lengthy waiting times.
“The last 10 years have seen a systematic depletion of funds
and people, but more than anything else they have destroyed
nurses. The Tory government decided to take away the
nursing bursary that paid people to be nurses, and now they
are picking a fight with nurses over pay.”
The nursing bursary that John is referring to is the bursary
that was available to student nurses, and offered them up
to £10,000 a year in funding – but was scrapped by the
Conservative government in the late 2010s. And it seems as if
nurses, including John, have had enough.
After years of intense back and forth, over pay and patient
safety, NHS staff have begun to strike. December 2022 saw
the first wave of strikes take place and they have made their
way into the New Year. “I am fully supportive of them. Nurses
have never been on strike, but they have also never been
treated so badly. It all comes down to pay. Pay nurses more!”
John demanded.
Jules Morrison, CEO for men’s mental health charity HiS,
echoed John’s statements over the NHS crisis.
“There is no funding for mental health,”she told me. She said:
“COVID is simply an excuse. There is nothing in place.
62
by Narent Sejdija
Following the nurses strikes, Man Down writer, Narent Sejdija, explores the NHS waiting
times that have struck Britain in this strong opinion piece
The system breaks down men who want help. It’s like a game
of snakes and ladders.”
She continued:“Men are isolated, mentally. The waiting times
and services leave them extremely broken. Mental health is
secondary to physical.” When asked what the NHS and the
government can do to improve waiting times and services,
she responded:“Fund charities like us.”
HiS charity, a non-profit charity, specialises in helping and
treating men who are experiencing mental health problems.
Jules said:“We meet the whole person’s needs. We emphasize
on well-being and those same men that are extremely broken
by the system, or let down, leave us thriving, not surviving.”
The charity offers a range of support for men, including
holistic therapies and counselling. Men who are struggling
can refer themselves online, and their helpline is available
24/7, 365 days a year.
Jules explained that the charity has helped a number of
men, including those who suffer with trauma, particularly
childhood issues. She also added that army veterans and
soldiers benefited from the services provided.
Whilst the waiting times have made things harder for those
who wish to seek help immediately, numerous charities,
such as HiS, have done a wonderful job at helping those who
struggle.
Data shows patients are wating
for more than 8 weeks for a
diagnostic services and 14
weeks for therapy services
for december 2022.
63
Grief. A suckerpunch to the
heart and mind when losing
someone who meant a lot to
you. Whether that’s a family
member, friend, pet or even
your favourite football player.
It is an enormous toll which
can take over mental health
for a while. However, it is not
something you have to go
through alone. Strongmen
have created supportive
services to aid and comfort
men going through tough
times. Their awareness
of men's emotional and
physical health conditions,
which tend to be overlooked,
provide a sense of security
in knowing that you are not
going through this struggle
alone.
Strongmen offer several
services which you can
reach out for others to help
you. Man2Man is another
example - the volunteer
peer support service is
telephone based with
‘first-hand experience of
losing a loved one’. You get
to have a one-on-one chat
with a trained volunteer for
a kind conversation which
you can receive for six
weeks. This service focuses
on creating a connection
between two men who have
shared similar experiences
with grief and empathising
without feeling judged. It
focuses on strengths rather
than weaknesses to achieve
healing and recovery. The
best part about Man2Man is
that the support is mutually
offered and reciprocal, so you
can benefit from the help
whether you are receiving it
or giving it.
Another incredible service
Strongmen offer is the
‘Weekender Retreat’which
is where groups of men can
relax and enjoy remote and
calming surroundings and
at the same time having
conversations and doing
physical activities in an
environment where you
feel secure and safe with
others who have shared
the same experiences as
you. Even though you are
with complete strangers
it enhances the idea of
creating a connection to
similar experiences. You get
to reconnect with nature and
participate in a variety of
physical activities to create
a sense of achievement and
purpose.
Strongmen co-founder
Dan Cross created this
passionate project from his
own recovery from grief
and bereavement when he
was also diagnosed with
anxiety, depression & PTSD.
The authenticity and service
coming from someone who
has first-hand experience of
the symptoms and stages of
grief can be comforting to
know for some people.
You can even get involved
yourself by creating your
own fundraisers and events
through Strongmen as a
part of their stigma-breaking
movement.
They have made it easy and
accessible for men to register
for support or even help give
support. Overall it focuses
on unity, strength and the
journey to recovery and
healing through empathy
and achieving the mindset
that you don’t have to grieve
alone.
you are not alone.
How Strongmen could be your new support system when dealing with grief
in partnership with
64
by Catherine Hayma
65
Photo: Marin Tulard
editors
acknowledgements
thank you for reading man down.
I would like to acknowledge and show
my appreciation to everyone who has
supported, contributed and worked on
this magazine.
To barbara, william, sam and narent.
man down would be nothing without all
of your talent, strive and resilience.
this project was very demanding with
highs and lows, but we pushed through.
thank you so much.
To my friends and family, jo and taran.
your endless and unconditional
support was exactly what i needed
to remind me that i was strong and
capable enough to get this magazine
done.
66
i would like to give a special thank
you to matthew. there are not enough
words to describe how grateful i am
to have had you pushing me to my best
abilities and reigniting the fire i have
for journalism. you believe in me at
my best and worst, THANK YOU.
lastly, thank you to every man
who used their vulnerability as a
strength and not a weakness, your
contributions are helping TO break
the stigma.
67
EVERYONE YOU MEET
IS FIGHTING A BATTLE
YOU KNOW NOTHING
ABOUT.
BE KIND.
- Robin Williams

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Man Down Final to be published.pdf

  • 2. trigger warning ThIS magazine contains content INCLUDING THEMES SUCH AS suicide that readers may find upsetting. Photo: Jess Loiterton 2
  • 3. WELCOME TO MAN DOWN, We believe our purpose is to break the stigma that men's mental health isn't important. Through men’s voices, stories and experiences we want to provide a real, raw, and relatable magazine where vulnerability and emotions are DISCUSSED IN a safe space. Cover photo: Jurien-Huggins 3
  • 4. TABLE OF CONTENTS 08 28 Bipolar Disorder - An ongoing battle I deal with on a daily basis How psychologists helped young men from Tottenham open up Richard Mead - On photography and mental health Released. 08 40 52 28 40 52 mental health AND THE MIND BLACK MINDS ARTS AND CULTURE WELLNESS AND COPING 4
  • 8. with on a "bipolar is an on Prescriptions always lead with long and confusing words. Lithium. Divalproex. Escitalopram. These are just three of several medications doctors across the world prescribe patients with bipolar disorder, with each medicine working in different ways for different reasons. Whether you’re stabilising your mood, treating hypomania/bipolar depression or fixing your sleeping pattern, whichever medications patients decide to use depends on the severity of the symptoms and in which phase of the illness the patient is in. Bipolar UK’s most recent up-to-date statistics state that‘1.3 million people in the UK have bipolar. That is one in fifty people’. Many people who have bipolar have not been prescribed with the correct treatment and 60% of people living with bipolar get no treatment or support for the condition at all. Jason and Adam are two of the people struggling with this. Jason uses medication and therapy, and Adam uses only cognitive behavioural therapy to help them cope with their disorder. Both of them have a different experience of living with bipolar and how it affects them. Bipolar disorder causes shifts in a person’s general mood, concentration, energy and even carrying out simple everyday tasks. Symptoms of bipolar come with severe episodes of either depression or mania, with depression causing a heavy feeling of lowness and lethargy, whereas mania creates euphoric highs and overactive reactions. These symptoms are built upon what mood you’re experiencing in that moment. The NHS categorises Bipolar in categories - Bipolar I is predominantly manic episodes lasting a week, and Bipolar II undiagnosed people living with bipolar 75% had delay in diagnos is causing suicidal thoughts 56% population on bp spectrum 5% Does medication support set back men with bipolar disorder? 8
  • 9. going battle i deal daily basis..." Are other forms of coping more beneficial? couldn't correctly identify the condition 50% coulddn't correctly identify bipolar disorder symptoms 75% adults affected by bipolar 34% shows a pattern of depressive and hypomanic episodes. Jason Oosterik was diagnosed with a mild form of bipolar at just 16 years old. This came after his parents had realised his constant mood swings were affecting his school performance. He says:“At first it was difficult to deal with these mood swings as I didn’t know much at all about the disorder”. School and sporting events started to become difficult for Jason as he found it difficult to have the motivation to get out of bed and face the world. Jason continues:“Living with bipolar also means that I suddenly would get overjoyed and have loads of energy, which has led to making poor decisions; such as regular alcohol use and generally doing things that I regret later.” According to Bipolar UK, the onset of hypomania or mania can include overactivity and impulsive or risky behaviour. Alcohol and drug use could be seen as a form of coping or an escape for some. Jason expresses that after‘a high’his mood can change very quickly to feelings of sadness and emptiness.“Bipolar is also very tiring and often makes it hard to socialise for longer periods of time.”To protect his health, Jason often visited a therapist who was recommended by his GP. He claims that it has“helped tremendously”and that he has“learned more about what I can expect and how to deal with the lows as well as being able to control the manic phase.”In the meantime, Jason has also been using an anti-depression medication called Escitalopram, which is supposed to regulate mood swings.“This medication has me feeling 9 by Catherine Hayma
  • 10. very emotionally constipated and it's hard to express my feelings in the way I’d like to.” Although medication is meant to help regulate mood swings, sometimes its side effects can be more overwhelming than thought. Jason describes his experiences and the struggles he has faced since childhood:“Bipolar is an ongoing battle that I deal with on a daily basis, but I have done a lot of research which has helped me understand what I can do to help myself. I hate living with Bipolar. At home it was also difficult in the past as I am the oldest son, my parents had big plans for me but after failing to pursue these plans due to my disorder it caused tension and fights as a result of being lazy.” I asked Jason what advice he would give other men who are living with bipolar disorder and how best he thinks it is to cope with it. He confidently says:“I would advise men who deal with this to educate themselves, there are so many informative websites that can help. Talking to their GP is also crucial as a GP can prescribe the appropriate medication. And lastly, I would strongly encourage men in this situation to talk about this issue with a trusted someone, a friend, a family member and definitely to consider visiting a therapist.” Adam Smith has been attending cognitive behavioural therapy for 2 years to help cope with his mild to moderate diagnosis of bipolar disorder at the age of 19. CBT therapy is focused on identifying unhealthy and negative behaviours and replacing those with hopeful and healthy ones. It is known for helping track what triggers the episodes within people. Adam struggles with unhealthy habits such as procrastination:“I always try to bring myself to complete a task. Mainly university work, but when I am in a particular mood, it is impossible that I will get anything productive done”. He continues to describe a time where he had assignments due for university, but ended up watching the entirety of Star Wars from the very first film, to the most recent one. Completely ignoring the important things in his life such as university assignments. But, CBT therapy has guided Adam to assess his habits and change that:“I find it often hard to be honest to your therapist about the way you handle things. But the best thing you can do to help with your mind is being honest with your therapist to actually change your ways.”Adam’s therapist suggested small steps to gradually change his behaviour towards procrastinating: “I would never manage my time properly which was the main cause of why I would never get things done,”says the therapist.“But I have found that planning out all of the things I have to do throughout the day helps me keep on progressing to getting those things done”. The topic of medication came up in conversation to which stern face was pulled,“Medication never appealed to me…My grandad took medication for his depression and I saw how much it affected him. I prefer talking and human contact, it removes that feeling of loneliness I sometimes feel.”Bipolar has affected Matthew in ways which distract him from the realities of life. He often feels as though he is never in a normal state, always fast and euphoric highs swiftly moving to numbness and dissociation. Adam’s piece of advice would be:“The less attention you pay to it, the more it is going to affect you. You have to face the truth to protect not only those around you who love you, but yourself from hurting. Therapy may seem like a scary thing to commit to, but once you find someone you trust, it gets so easy to communicate how you're feeling and someone acknowledges that and listens to you with no judgement but guidance. Medicine doesn’t work for me, but it could work for you. Explore your options, be open and honest to your GP or therapist and work on coping with this.” Both Jason and Adam have given a strong push for therapy, as they find it to be most helpful in stimulating and regulating their mood swings and shifts of behavioural patterns. Medicine for Jason proved to regulate his mood but to the point where he wasn’t fully aware or in touch with his emotions. Since both recommended talking to people about their bipolar disorder I found a Bipolar Support Group UK on Facebook. It is a public page on Facebook where people can join and share their own experiences and stories with others to support and help one another. 10
  • 11. Photo: Vijay Sadasivuni Founder and administrator of the group, Hazel Parry, has been running the account for two years, and welcomes all. With 392 members, Hazel’s reasoning for starting the page is inspiring. She states:“It is important that people who suffer with bipolar disorder have a comfortable and open environment where they can either just simply observe and listen, or participate and share.”With more people talking about how to cope with Bipolar, hopefully the issue will become less stigmatised in society. 11
  • 12. q u e e r 1 0 1 in partnership with the proud trust manchester 12
  • 13. The Proud Trust Manchester are hosting a queer men’s mental health full day workshop for therapists and other service providers. The workshop takes an exploratory approach to mental wellness and unravels specific factors that therapists, social workers and educators can use in their work. Queer men’s mental Health will be led by Rahim Thawer. Thawer, a queer psychotherapist, will dig into the issues queer men battle against which impact their mental health. During the workshop, therapists will identify, examine and analyse topics, starting with a‘Mental Health 101’introduction. Not to mention a range of different learning outcomes such as internalised shame, body image, substance use and relationships. It delves into origins of the topics, challenges stereotypes and assumptions additionally taking a cultural approach to understand different queer men’s perspectives. This event will be beneficial to anybody that takes an interest in queer men's mental health, and will expand your knowledge on this important topic. The event will take place in Manchester at the Proud Trust with an early start at 9am. Photo: Armin Rimoldi 13 by Catherine Hayma
  • 14. ADHD iS IT A 'SUPERPOWER'? Photo: Jacob Sierra 14
  • 15. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition affecting a significant number of men in the UK and as every person is unique, it impacts individuals differently. Some consider this a superpower. Beautiful ideas getting lost in time, unruly thoughts taking their own direction, imagination filling up the empty space in the room and a sudden frustration taking over as the interest is gone. Whether familiar to you or not, people diagnosed with ADHD probably have experienced something similar at least once in their lifetime. Analysis of the latest data from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence shows that ADHD is more commonly diagnosed in boys than girls, and that there are three different subtypes of ADHD: The inattentive type which accounts for 20% to 30% of cases, the hyperactive-impulsive type accounting for 15% of cases and the combined subtype that accounts for 50% to 75% of cases. This research highlights the importance of recognising different variations of ADHD. So, with so many various forms of ADHD, do people with the condition believe it to be a superpower? Kody Lukens, who became an ADHD advocate after being diagnosed with it, explains: “I know that a lot of people think that ADHD can be a superpower, because it helps them. I don’t know if cope is the right word, but it makes them feel better about the downsides of their ADHD.” After posting a social media video about ADHD not always being a superpower, he received a significant positive response from people who felt supported by his beliefs.“I feel disabled and not capable”was one of the comments from his Instagram followers. The follower continued:“I’m so sick of the word superpower when I don’t feel superpowered at all.” It is true that ADHD can bring advantages and there are a lot of successful people with ADHD who achieve incredible things, however focusing only on the positives can be a misleading way to approach the disorder. Restlessness, impulsiveness, and irritability are some of the characteristics of a man with the disorder. Men with ADHD can struggle to stay organised or to prioritise tasks. They also have poor planning and time management skills. Having these personal traits can be very challenging as we live in a world that requires us to be constantly focused on tasks and getting things done quickly. ADHD people have the most difficult task which is to find calm and order within their chaos. Kody gives some examples of downsides: “Doing projects on the night before they are due or waiting until dishes pile up in your sink. And then it becomes urgent because you are out of dishes, and you need to do them”. He adds, “You can lose things much more easily and suffer from emotional stress. ”Whilst the downsides of hyper focusing include neglecting other tasks, the full dedication and sole focus to a specific task is something many people do not possess. Kody says:“In some situations this can be incredibly beneficial if you are hyper focusing on a work or a school project or a fun new hobby. According to medical research, hyperfocus can be described as‘locking on’to a task. You can make progress faster than neurotypical people in that same frame of time, so that is a superpower. - Kody lukens 15 by Barbara Meneses
  • 16. Mohammed Ibrahim, 27, known as Ibz Mo, who was diagnosed with ADHD, graduated from both Oxford and Cambridge universities despite the obstacles. He managed to inspire other people from ethnic minorities with ADHD through his social media platforms, who felt that the disorder was underdiagnosed and considered a taboo within their communities. Since his childhood he had always reported to have a lack of concentration for schoolwork, having conversations, performing tasks and he would always leave the tasks until the last minute or not finish them. He even struggled with routine tasks such as brushing his teeth and sending a text message. “I have always felt that I work, behave and think differently from other people. I would always find myself daydreaming excessively, making reckless decisions and I would feel regularly overwhelmed, experiencing mood swings,”Ibrahim says. Although these symptoms have always been present, it was not until lockdown where they became more evident.“I spent eighteen months observing myself, identifying my behaviours and trying to process my traumas.” As a psychology graduate, Ibrahim shares his knowledge on ADHD: ”Brain structure and brain activity vary significantly from those who have ADHD and those who do not have in terms of brain development. When it comes to brain activity the main discourse is there are two neurotransmitters – dopamine and norepinephrine that are at an imbalance, so the network that carries those neurotransmitters are not going to stimulate the right parts of the brain.” For this reason, people with ADHD have difficulty with performing executive functioning tasks, having an impact on every aspect in life. Since ADHD brains have low levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, people with ADHD are wired to lose interest in some activities faster than most. The people diagnosed with ADHD find it easier to complete activities they have a low interest in by using a motivational acronym called INCUP: interest, novelty, challenge, urgency, and passion. Kody explains:“Those are the five factors that motivate ADHD people more than the significance of the task, whereas‘importance’ may be the usual motivation for neurotypical people. We need those other five as we lack the motivational chemical – dopamine.” ADHD is often mistaken for laziness which can lead to anxiety and low self-esteem in people with ADHD. This label of‘laziness’contributes to the ADHD stigma. Max Davies, ADHD specialist, explains how being diagnosed with ADHD helps him to perform his profession well as he can understand his patients better. In his opinion,“ADHD is stigmatised although in a subtle different way to other conditions.”Max says: “Having ADHD can be really crap, but you are part of the group of the best people in the world.” The lack of support and the feeling of being misunderstood can be some of the biggest challenges that people with ADHD face, as they can feel different from the rest of the society. This makes it essential to be selective with the people who surround them. Max continued: “Environmental adaptation plays an important role. forgiving yourself as well as others forgiving you is fundamental. - max davies 16
  • 17. Supportive colleagues and family know that you are going to get distracted while doing a task but know that you are trying. You are not doing because you are lazy or because you do not care. It is because you are finding it hard.” When asked about the best approach to deal with ADHD, the doctor Max highlights the importance of keeping the brain as healthy as possible, advising,“I do not think it is about having a remedy. This is what I say to people in the clinic. Most of the work is about adapting the environment including your internal environment.”In his opinion choosing a healthy lifestyle and prioritising self-care can the best way to address ADHD. He says,“If you sleep well, do exercise, go outside, keep your mood as positive as possible, you will be in a much better place.” As easy as it seems, people with ADHD sometimes struggle with these habits. For this reason, it is important to be compassionate and kind to themselves. When there are bad days, shifting the attention from those‘weaknesses’into the ‘strengths’can be a beneficial strategy. When thinking of ADHD as a superpower like this, it can become helpful and bring hope to continue the journey. Brilliant minds that need to be seen differently. To understand ADHD minds, it is crucial to acknowledge how complex they are and the personal traits that comes within each individual. Photo: Yane Wise 17
  • 18. why should i be sad? IN THIS POIGNANT FIRST PIECE, MAN DOWN WRITER NARENT SEJDIJA BREAKS THE ICE ON THERAPY Photo: Bright Winner 18
  • 19. why should i be sad? Maybe I had anticipated my very first therapy session for so long that that it almost felt as if I had trained myself to be ready for it? Or maybe the anticipation that had been bubbling for almost a year felt like it was finally going to burst. Whatever was going on, I definitely wasn’t going to complain. Oops, I spoke too soon. As I sat in the waiting room, the butterflies had emerged and began to swirl whilst I was choking on my thoughts on all the things that could go wrong – anxiety can have that affect. “Narent Sejidija?,”a soft voice said in the corner (my last name is spelled SEJDIJA, but people tend to butcher how they say it, so they end up saying something not far off. It was the therapist. Long black hair and short in height, she was so sweet and welcoming when I walked with her into the therapy room. It’s just like you see in movies and shows. Two chairs opposed to each other, with a small round table in the middle. The infamous box of handkerchief tissues was placed on my side, and I knew I would be needing them in the state I was in. And I was right. Within the space of 20 minutes, I burst into tears as I recounted to her everything that had been mostly troubling me – but I still held back on a lot. In fact, I was a little stunned when my therapist said something on the lines of 14 sessions, possibly more. But don’t just take my word for it – even the NHS explain how a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can run between 5 – 20 sessions. But maybe that’s exactly how much I need. After all, I have waited a really long time to begin the course. But why should I be sad? After all, I’m one of the lucky (ish) ones. Whilst so many are stuck on waiting times, I’ve been fortunate enough to secure a place. I’m not entirely sure what’s next for my treatment, though I can probably guess that I’ll have to do a lot more talking. But I know I’m in safe hands thanks to the wonderful therapist assigned to me. As the session ended, I felt the weight on my shoulders become slightly lighter – and I suppose that’s the purpose of therapy, right? To our readers, if you’re thinking about taking that step into therapy, my advice is to go for it. Sure, it’s scary and completely daunting (like beyond), but I can vouch that it can be a great avenue to clear your mind and get help. Blasting Britney’s 2007 album,‘Blackout’, it felt like a typical morning ritual. Or at least an attempt at making the morning as normal as possible. After waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting for almost a year (yes, really) I had finally secured my very first therapy session provided by the NHS. 9AM sharp on the first Friday of December 2022. I’ve never really been a big talker, especially to strangers. Introverted as hell, getting myself to open up to someone let alone someone who I’ve one who I’ve never met before, would seem like the most dare devil task I’ve given myself. However, that Friday morning, I was as cool as a cucumber. Or at least tried to be. As I hopped myself on the 31 bus, the typical butterflies that swirl around my stomach had seemingly disappeared.“What on earth is going on with me?” I thought to myself. I know what you’re thinking, it would seem like the most terrifying thing opening up to a complete stranger. It is. But it’s incredibly freeing and liberating. Talking to someone who holds no judgement, and no attachment, to you is the reason therapy is therapeutic. Granted, I know that one session won’t magically cure my problems. Talkingtosomeonewho holdsnojudgement, andnoattachment,toyouis thereasontherapyis therapeutic. -nARENTSEJDIJA 19
  • 20. “Narent Sejidija?,” a soft voice said in the corner (my last name is spelled SEJDIJA, but people tend to butcher how they say it, so they end up saying something not far off.) It was the therapist. Long black hair and short in height, she was so sweet and welcoming when I walked with her into the therapy room. It’s just like you see in movies and shows. Two chairs opposed to each other, with a small round table in the middle. The infamous box of handkerchief tissues was placed on my side, and I knew I would be needing them in the state I was in. And I was right. Within the space of 20 minutes, I burst into tears as I recounted to her everything that had been mostly troubling me – but I still held back on a lot. I know what you’re thinking, it would seem like the most terrifying thing opening up to a complete stranger. It is.But it’s incredibly freeing and liberating. Talking to someone who holds no judgement, and no attachment, to you is the reason therapy is therapeutic. Granted, I know that one session won’t magically cure my problems. In fact, I was a little stunned when my therapist said something on the lines of 14 sessions, possibly more. But don’t just take my word for it – even the NHS explain how a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can run between 5 – 20 sessions. But maybe that’s exactly how much I need. After all, I have waited a really long time to begin the course. But why should I be sad? After all, I’m one of the lucky (ish) ones. I felt the weight on my shoulders become slightly lighter. - nARENTSEJDIJA Whilst so many are stuck on waiting times, I’ve been fortunate enough to secure a place. I’m not entirely sure what’s next for my treatment, though I can probably guess that I’ll have to do a lot more talking. But I know I’m in safe hands thanks to the wonderful therapist assigned to me. As the session ended, I felt the weight on my shoulders become slightly lighter – and I suppose that’s the purpose of therapy, right? To our readers, if you’re thinking about taking that step into therapy, my advice is to go for it. Sure, it’s scary and completely daunting (like beyond), but I can vouch that it can be a great avenue to clear your mind and get help. 20 Photo: Cotton Bro Studios
  • 21. ALL IN THE MIND AWARDS IS MAKING IT’S GRAND RETURN IN JUNE CLAUDIA HAMMOND WILL BE BACK HOSTING THE AWARDS NEXT MONTH Presenter Claudia Hammond and BBC Radio 4 are set to honour those who have had an important impact on mental health at the All In The Mind Awards. The ceremony, which will be held in June, will see three awards being given to an individual, professional and group whose support has made a real difference to someone facing a mental health battle. Previous winners include Spectrum People, a wonderful charity that provides support for young people, and GP Dr Celia Belk, who was nominated by her patient, Libby Watt, who made a heart-warming speech to Belk at the awards in 2021, cited her as a“true champion for the NHS… her going above and beyond has been a real lifesaver.” Nominations for the awards began in November 2022 and concluded at the end of January this year. A judging panel will decide the nine finalists and will be interviewed by Hammond on All In The Mind, Radio 4’s magazine programme on mental health and other important topics. Photo: RODNAE Productions 21 by Narent Sejdija
  • 23. by Barbara Meneses Here are 3 tips from Man Down for coping with divorce Divorce can be a challenging time and a draining process emotionally, physically, and financially. If you're going through a divorce, it's important to remember that everyone deals with it in different ways and only you know what your mind and body needs. Acknowledge your feelings and emotions This is a very important one. A survey conducted by Man Down magazine shows that men struggle to deal with their emotions and feelings, and this can become a problem in delaying the healing process. It is totally fine to take the time to sit with your emotions, to cry if you need to. And remember to reach out to your friends, family. Trust the process Ending a marriage can make you to revaluate all your goals as the plans have changed. Just enjoy your life journey and things will eventually fall in place. Your timing is your timing. Trust what is coming for you and believe fearlessly that you deserve the best. Knowing your values and setting your boundaries will help you to attract only what is the best for you. Spend time doing activities you are passionate about Doing what you love helps you not only to feel happier but also to rebuild your confidence. Do not let yourself be immersed into work and neglecting your self-care moments. If you are not sure what your favourite hobbies are, (re)connect with yourself and listen to your heart. It is just a matter of you knowing what you love doing and dedicating time to it, whether it is going to gym, being in contact with nature, meditating or doing anything else that works for you. the average age for UK men to get divorced is 46 23
  • 24. CALM Telephone: 0800 585858 (Campaign Against Living Miserably) was set up to try to reduce the number of male suicides. It provides online support as well as a telephone helpline available from 5pm to midnight every day. MEN'S HEALTH FORUM Men’s Health Forum is concerned with physical and mental health. It also has a Beat Stress section specifically for men. MALE VOICED Male Voiced supports men who have eating disorders and tries to break down the stigma around men and eating disorders. LIFE SIGNS Life Signs is a self injury support organisation providing information geared towards men who self-harm. MEN'S SHED Men's Sheds is a growing movement enabling mainly men to find friendship and mutual support through common interests such as carpentry, gardening, car repairs or model making. MANKIND Telephone: 01823 334244 Mankind runs a confidential helpline available to all men across the UK suffering from domestic violence or domestic abuse by their current or former wife or partner. Their helpline is open Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. RESPECT - MEN'S ADVICE LINE Telephone: 0808 801 0327 Email: info@mensadviceline.org.uk Provides a confidential helpline for men experiencing domestic violence from a partner, ex-partner or family member. They are available to talk Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm. the best support for you. 24
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  • 28. Openness is key when helping young people be open about their mental health. Two psychologists set up Project Future to work with young men aged 16-25 involved with gang violence in the London Borough of Haringey to engage with their mental health at the Bruce Grove youth club. In September 2022 the Centre of Mental Health looked at how they managed to do it. A common theme you’ll find throughout this magazine is how difficult it is for some men and especially younger men to open up. Project Future was designed in a way to change that. The psychologists engaged with the young people‘where they’re at’meaning they built relationships with them far beyond that of a tottenham open up how pyschologists helped young men from 28
  • 29. therapist and their patient. Using activities within the youth club like playing pool, having a kick-about or playing PlayStation a relationship was built before anything else. The relatability of the youth workers resulted in an environment of complete trust; the environment of trust created openness. The young people involved with Project Future really valued the work that the psychologists achieved. One young person told the Centre of Mental Health the organisation who looked into Project Future’s effectiveness, that they could talk to the workers about“anything that’s going on, if you need help with your schoolwork they will help you, you can talk to them about something that happened to you, and they will listen to you.”Another said that from Project Future’s sessions they’ve learnt they“don’t need to keep my emotions bottled up, I can always tell someone about them... otherwise it hurts you more than anyone else.” Project Future has shown just how far an organic environment can help to not only build relationships between adults and young people from diverse backgrounds but how those same young people can begin a relationship with their own mental health. By William Bitibiri m 29 Photo: Edson Diogo
  • 30. This award is for the brothers. Kerry Phillips recognised at the football blacklist - Kerry Phillips Kerry Phillips, founder of the Saving Souls mental health football team, was honoured at the Football Blacklist Awards 2022. Phillips picked up the award for his contributions to contributions to community and grass roots through saving souls. The Football Blacklist, founded in 2008 by sports journalists Leon Mann and Rodney Hinds, highlights leaders working across all areas of the game from the Black community. A panel of experts drawn from the football industry and the Black community independently vote on nominations made by the public to determine who makes the list. The panel included representation from the Premier League, The Football Association, League Managers Association, English Football League, PGMOL, BCOMS and Kick It Out. Kerry said“It’s mad because you never know who’s watching so to be recognised for the hard work you do just makes you want to keep going This Award is for the brothers.” See more from Saving Souls on page 56. Photo: Hallie Primus 30 by William Bitibiri
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  • 32. awndywrld awndyday awndymp4 into the undrgrnd welcome to An exclusive spotlight on writer, wndy, who shares the in’s and out’s of his website. mandown x wndy 32
  • 33. AWNDYWRLD is an escape for me to express myself “freely” as I battle with whether or not to follow a “corporate” or “creative” career path. The site is also a “third time lucky” attempt of two previous blogs I’ve had in the past. Again, corporate or “creative”. if anything has been consistent about my life, it’s the inconsistency of it. “AWNDYDAY” It is a 30 day journaling challenge I started in lockdown which carried on for 3 years. If anything has been consistent about my life, it’s the inconsistency of it. I went to 10 schools and moved homes about 16 times, (SE, SW, E, Essex, Leeds, Manchester, Nigeria). So as a result I get bored of things very easily. Over lockdown, I needed to solve this issue so I challenged myself to write a page a day in a journal for 30 days and I just never stopped. I also used this to substitute my website at the time,“awindyday.co.uk”, because really and truly I just wanted to write and avoid the technical Wordpress and SEO stuff. But after two years we’re back again. My concept is: to write a page about whatever is going on in my head at the time, could be absolutely anything. Initially it was simply a way to build discipline but has now spiralled into the main foundation of my mental health and built a level of self awareness in me that I find priceless. However, now, a couple days without journaling usually leads to a series of unfortunate events. “AWNDYMP4” I bought a camcorder for £10 on Facebook Marketplace. I started recording random events in my life. Then one day I felt like playing around with one of the video on iMovie. There’s a feeling of stress relief you get when you’re creating something that you can’t really compare to a massage or a zoot. One day I had a burnout and needed some sort of antidote. And with me always looking for a new project, I decided to try editing a video on my camcorder. My concept is: find a video on the camcorder and think of a song that would work with it. The song for me is the most important part of the video. Through all my moving around, besides God, music is the only thing that has never left my side. So music is usually incorporated in most of the work I do. Which brings me to my final pillar. “UNDRGRND” I listen to way too much music but the UK Underground scene is where my heart currently lies. So this section of the website is simply to shed light on artists that I think everyone needs to give a chance. I always say the best time to catch an artist is at the start of their career because that’s when the art is most authenticand songs hit most, for the most part. However, the start of the journey is usually under-appreciated or goes under the rdar entirely. Now, the UK“underground”scene is starting to grow rapidly with artists like A2, Knucks, Bawo and others hitting their stride, that I think it would be an absolute waste for so much talent and creativity to go unacknowledged. Plus the amount of music I listen to (more than 99.5% of the UK according to Spotify), I have this habit of trying to force new music onto people, so I guess this way may be a bit more effective in the long run. My concept is: put people on GREAT MUSIC. In the grand scheme of things, the website is a combination of all my previous attempts to add value to the world in one place. From my failed blogs in the past to my day to day mistakes and challenges in life. When it’s all said and done, all I hope when people visit the site is that they are able to take something valuable away that could be used in their life. -w - W 33
  • 34. <piece of mind or peace of mind> When I was younger I used to know exactly what I wanted for myself. My ambition and “conviction” for what I wanted could never be shifted then life crept in. The issue when life creeps in is that it tries to get us to think that we want something different for ourselves than what we really do. Or, you get so caught up in the game of life that you almost “forget” what you initially wanted. And the truth is, when you have no idea what you're working towards that's when we become more susceptible to depression. Some people use the word “purpose”, I use the word “mission”. If you haven’t got one it becomes difficult to find a reason to get out of bed. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves if we’re living or existing. And most of the time, we’re just existing, waiting for the next best thing to catch our attention and keep us entertained for a period of time. I can only speak for myself, but I believe my body has always known the direction it wants to go. When I’m on this path, I feel most at “peace”. But for whatever reason it may be, sometimes, life can tricks me into thinking the peace I have isn’t deserved or isn’t enough, so I exchange peace for chaos, maybe in search of something a bit more “exciting” when the truth is you’ll still find yourself coming back in search of “peace” again. Now peace doesn’t mean happiness. You can be peaceful, but there is no limit to happiness, you will always be in search of more. However, you can be at peace without necessarily being happy, for example, a passing of a friend won’t fill you with joy but you can come to peace with the fact that they are in a better place. When it comes to this “mission”, I have left it 3 times before in search of more “happiness” elsewhere, only to find myself naturally gravitating back to where I found the most peace, peace in the sense of “it just feels right”. And I feel like we all have that one thing that we spend time doing that just feels “right”. Something we can work towards for hours on end that wouldn’t necessarily make sense to the outside world but makes the most sense to you. The chances are if you spend enough time being at peace, you’ll find what your “mission” is, because that’s when we feel most like ourselves, as opposed to the person who’s identity has been corrupted by the “he says…” and “she says…” of this world. At the end of the day, why would you trade a piece of your mind for your peace of mind? Excerpt from the website 34
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  • 40. Richard Mead, Elephant and Castle // Photo: Sam Shaw RICHARD MEAD - ON PHOTOGRAPHY AND MENTAL HEALTH 40
  • 41. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TAKING PHOTOS? I’ve taken photos since I was a kid, and my dad was a film photographer. My grandparents were film photographers, so it kind of runs the family. But since I started doing my bachelors in it, I have started taking it seriously. WHAT MAKES YOU ADVOCATE FOR MENTAL HEALTH? When I was 19, I joined the police force. But I had quit by 25 due to the lack of support. An incident in 2014 caused me to have PTSD, and it took seven years to get diagnosed for it, and I’ve been on the waiting list since 2021 to have the counseling. I’ve used like Mind, Samaritans, and the Campaign Against Living Miserably, I have spoken to them quite a lot as well. I also managed to partner my old university with CALM and the National Centre for Domestic Violence to get more support for students. But when I left that fell apart. The reason I continue to do all of this though is because I have seen how bad it can be basically. HAVE YOU FOUND THAT PHOTOGRAPHY IS A GOOD WAY TO HELP WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES? It is very theraputic for me. So one of my recent projects was on the body, which helped me cope with my appearance. Another one came after being jumped in December. They broke my glasses and as I don’t deal with confrontation still due to the PTSD, I broke down and started drinking heavily. I ended up saying to myself,“why not make a project out of this?”, so I started to document my recovery every day as a coping mechanism. I did this as a major project for my BA, and called it“Road To Recovery.” DO YOU THINK THAT PHOTOGRAPHY IS MORE HEALING THAN WRITING FOR YOU? It’s a combination. It’s a combination because whenever you take a photo, there’s, there’s gonna be a caption to the photos. But on hard days only photography will get me out of the house. I’ll go the camera and I’ll shoot stuff. WHAT MEDIUM DO YOU LIKE TO SHOOT WITH AT THE MOMENT? I am really into doing film photography as well now which is great. I think because you have to think about it more it just takes your mind off what you’re struggling with. Limiting your shooting to 36 shots can really get you in a better zone and make you focus more on your shooting. And then you come and process it, and it is like a healing process again, you are creating something from start to finish. My emotions are on that film, you can see I have had to think about it more. It is a much more physical thing than just shooting digital, and I have shot some things before where I just wasnt bothered about the end result of it. Film is much different in that sense. IN CONCLUSION, HOW HAS PHOTOGRAPHY HELPED YOU? Well simply put, even if I don’t do anything with the photos, the fact that I’ve got out and I got fresh air, I’ve brought out my camera, I’ve done something that’s not just stagnating my room with a bottle of Captain Morgan! So the process in the activity is something I enjoy, it gets me out. TURN OVER TO LOOK AT RICHARD'S LATEST PROJECTS -------> HERE AT MAN DOWN, WE BELIEVE EVERY MAN SHOULD BE HEARD. THIS IS RICHARD MEADS’ STORY. I WAS GOING THROUGH IT SO I JUST ESCAPED TO THE MOUNTAINS WITH MY NAN, AND ONE OF MY PROJECTS WAS MADE THERE. - Richard mead 41 by Sam Shaw
  • 42. ARTIFICIAL AESTHETICS For this project Richard shot a set of photographs and wrote their descriptions into DALL.E 2, an AI software that can create images from descriptions. The more descriptive you are in describing what you want, the more accurate the result will be. These were the AI results from“Blackpool Pier”, the photo covering the page. AI rendition #1 “I am using this project as a way of rethinking my relationship with AI. PTSD means I get fixated on stuff, and I got fixated on hating AI in this istance. So I am trying to reprogram my brain into not hating it.”- Richard Mead 42
  • 43. AI rendition #2 AI rendition #3 43
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  • 46. “IT IS EXTREMELY HARD “I have suffered from mental health issues yes. I didn’t get any help from the creative industry at the time, it was my friends that got me through it. I am also very lucky to have had help from fantastic therapist, who I have spoken to for almost 20 years on and off. I don’t know what I would do without him.” These are the words of Johnny Butler, a Grammy Award winning New-York based saxophonist. Butler has been through both the bad and the good times of being in the music industry. But unfortunately, stories like Butlers’own mental health struggles are nothing new. Wind the clock back 27 years, you land in 1994. This was the year Kurt Cobain, front man of Nirvana, sadly died of suicide. Unfortunately, this was another solemn moment in a long line of male mental issues health struggles.in the music industry. Move forward to the present Mental health problems in the music industry have long been an issue. But what is being done at a higher level to support male musicians who are battling with their mental health? by Sam Shaw and the problem has not gone anywhere. Artists like Avicii and Mac Miller sent huge shockwaves through the music industry upon their deaths, in an all too familiar scenario. A Swedish based publication released a study in 2019 that had alarming results – it revealed that a staggering 73 percent of independent musicians have battled stress, anxiety, and depression. So even with studies concluding there is a huge problem, the question still seems to stay the same – where is the support? Johnny Butler gave Man Down his opinion on this.“I do not think it’s easy to get support as an artist. There’s a common belief that artists get to do what they love, they’re free and that life is easy – that’s simply not the case. Creative work is hard, you have bosses, deadlines, tonnes of pressure, and it can be mundane at times. It is extremely hard to survive as an artist, you have to have a driving desire to keep doing it or you will quit.” But how does the pressure of the music industry effect up and coming artists that are relatively new into the industry? In steps Kemani Anderson, the lead singer and co- founder of Secret Night Gang. Secret Night Gang (Or S.N.G as they like to be called) are a Manchester based ensemble that came onto the music scene four and a half years ago. Anderson told Man Down of the challenges the modern music industry has thrown at Secret Night Gang so far. “The music game, well, it's not the easiest. You're going to go through times where like you're loving what you're doing and there's not a thing that an get in the way of it. But then there's also parts of it where you're going to feel like your music isn't good enough. It's kind of like a push and pull kind of thing.” What Anderson describes as a“push pull”relationship is a feeling felt by many relatively new artists to the industry and is expressed similarly by Butler. The highs and lows for new artists in the industry are defined in many more ways now than ever before - this is in part thanks to the stressful factors like algorithm bias from streaming platforms that are bias to boosting Photo Credit: Kemani Anderson 46
  • 47. TO SURVIVE as AN ARTIST” Photo: Artem Podrez the more famous artists out there, amongst a range of other pressures from the modern music industry. However, one thing that remains the same in the modern music industry is for musicians to be able to express their emotions within their music, as Anderson explains. “The best way for me to express my emotions is through the music, whether it's because of the lyrical content or something else. I think that there's ways to like kind of deal with the pressures quite well.” Both Butler and Anderson seem to share the opinion that the music industry is a stressful place and can have Photo: Spencer Ostrander a toll on mental health. But how are these thoughts seen by a leader in the music business? The answer comes from Simon Harris, one of the co-creators of Minds on Fire. Minds On Fire is a music publishing company based in London. Harris gave Man Down some insight into the mental health difficulties that both newer and older musicians in the industry can face. “Not being well known and being well known can both be difficult to cope with. Different pressures on each. One in 10 signed artists will have success, so that’s nine artists that will be dropped. 47 The pressure to succeed will be difficult for some to cope with.”
  • 48. by Sam Shaw Photo: Myah Jeffers Photo: National Theatre Othello returned to the stages this year with an extraordinary production. Directed by Clint Dyer with a cast featuring actors from Hamilton and The Alienist, Shakespeare fans were treated to one of the theatre events of the year. The production is now making its way to select cinemas around the country. Screening starts on the 13th May in Norfolk and continues across the country. This is your chance to get a look into the troubled world of Othello on the big screen. Othello is one of the key productions Shakespeare wrote in his lifetime, and reproductions of the play have consistently brought up the debate of male mental health, so much so that the mental health issues Othello exhibits in the play has given the name to Othello Syndrome. The National Library of Medicine categorizes Othello syndrome as a psychotic disorder characterized by delusion of infidelity or jealousy. So, for your chance to delve into the troubled mind of Othello portrayed by the wonderful Giles Terera be sure to check if there are any screenings near you. It is not one to be missed. Othello: Giles Terera Takes on the Mind 48
  • 49. Mental health check in: Freely express how you feel in the box below 49
  • 52. Everyone knew me as the footballer, so when I lost that, I’d say I lost myself. Joshua Duyile is now 20 years old, working for his dad’s local business. Working for his dad is some distance from playing wide right for Queens Park Rangers but it’s reality, nonetheless. Like most young boys, Josh had a dream of making it as a Professional footballer. At 13 those dreams were shattered when he was released from QPR, the team he had been at since aged nine.“I remember it not being a surprise. We all went on a residential trip to Greece in the summer and it was just a feeling I had; the coaches started to treat me different, so I knew it was just inevitable.”Says Josh. “We had a meeting at the training ground with a couple of the coaches and my parents. It wasn’t even a long meeting; they gave their reasons, and it was pretty much done. I didn’t even feel some kind of way in that moment, I was just thinking about that journey back and what my mum or dad would say, I let them down. Josh isn’t alone in feeling pressure from his parents to succeed at academy level, according to a 2022 study, nearly 60% of youth footballers from 29 male football academies around the world, including Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia agreed with the notion that parents‘placed too much pressure on their sons to succeed’. That kind of pressure takes a toll on young minds. In 2015 it was revealed by the FA that only 0.5% of players that have been scooped up by professional academies at aged nine make it to the first team of that football club. Josh was part of the 99.95% that didn’t. “Footballers talk about scrutiny when they’re professional, but that’s not where all of that begins. You can see it now; some fans know about some of the talents that they have at their club at under-12s – there’s no other job like it!” “Because of that kind of attention clubs put you in a kind of bubble while you’re in the academy, that’s where they really look after you. They can get you the boots, you have the training kit, and you going into school and you’re the man. And going to places like school you think you’re the man because at home the pressure is different, my parents treated me as the next best footballer and were strict with it. At school, I was like a king socially, none of it felt real but I enjoyed that side of it. When I got released, just like that it was over – in my head at least.” Jeremy Witsen unfortunately took his own life in 2020 days after he had turned 18, shortly after being released by Manchester City. Following that came an inquest with a number of Premier League clubs looking inwardly at what they should be doing better to ensure similar tragedies are not repeated. Crystal Palace have led the way in terms of their player care initiatives as their revolutionary player care department will ensure players are released from the academy get an extended period of intervention by the club. The news pricked the ears of psychological practitioner Emmet Colville relea 52
  • 53. e who took the time to study Crystal Palace’s football dreams: The Academy documentary. “After watching the documentary, I was intrigued as to who was helping these players talk about what really matters.”He said. Emmet’s very wary of suggestions that Sport provides the best environment for young men to express their feelings “Football and sports in general can be a huge tool in connecting us,”he adds. “But I don’t think it’s as useful as it can or maybe should be. I found that while there were a lot of discussions about feelings there wasn’t explicit sharing of intimate private experiences.” “There was one episode that I found interesting where a young boy found that he played better when his dad wasn’t allowed to watch. The club recognised that and instructed the father to stay away during games to stop heaping pressure on his boy. There was no broadcasted conversation one on one with that boy to understand why it created a better environment and that’s the next step.” Asked what players needed to become more aware of their feelings through football, the answer was teaching“psychological flexibility”. “That comes from actually accepting what you’re feeling as a player then actively consciously committing to changing it. But there’s the problem, at academy level when you have to naturally think about how you’re perceived all the time, that isn’t easy.” Times are changing though, the Premier League does have a commitment to “overseeing the holistic development of academy players,”says Farai Hallam, academy support officer at the Premier League. “A big part of being holistically successful is managing mental health. We provide awareness but more importantly support during challenging times.” One thing the Premier League are keen to highlight is the power of language and how that goes on to impact younger boys and ased. Photo: Abigail Keenan 53 their careers.“The word release has such a negative connotation, to a point to some boys it can be traumatic as it can take you back to that moment so we’re trying to change the language being used at academies.” “So, you are‘leaving the club or graduating from the academy system’rather than being‘released’ I was released, I definitely know the feeling of having to tell people that. Of course, you feel like a failure – changing the narrative is so important.” For Farai, the key to allowing young boys to cope is changing their perception of success and he closed with a poignant message to young men. “It’s important we equip young men with the knowledge that success isn’t rigid, happiness isn’t found in that one thing or that one dream, real success is the journey and the man you become once that is all over.” by William Bitibiri
  • 54. “MEN WITHOUT MASKS” RETREAT Embarking on a journey of self-discovery with a retreat organised by Men Without Masks can be a transformative experience. Men Without Masks offers retreats throughout the year. The next upcoming 5-day retreat in May 2023, allows men to discuss the pressures they face and how strong they are together as a community group. Organised by Craig White, a high-performance coach who works together with a team of psychotherapists and mental health experts, the retreat gives the opportunity to men to reconnect to parts of themselves that are hidden or denied through practicing mindful activities, spending time in nature and eating healthy meals. A retreat that offers a safe and confidential environment to every man who needs support and is looking for a sense of purpose. Daniel says this experience has helped him after going through an existential crisis: Daniel Granger, 39, a hairdresser from Southampton participated in one of the retreats. “I lived with suicide, it was just a part of me,”Daniel says“My father and brother died by suicide. I have always thought it would be my destiny. I wanted to overcome those challenges with the help of Men Without Masks. I did not want to rely on medication.” Daniel says“My father and brother died by suicide. I have always thought it would be my destiny. I wanted to overcome those challenges with the help of Men Without Masks. I did not want to rely on medication.” The next retreat takes place May 16-20 in the Yorkshire Dales, a place known for its natural beauty. The price starts with £2000 varying according to the chosen accommodation. For more information, visit menwithoutmasks.com or follow on Instagram men_withoutmasks. I watched my mask come off and I watched other men’s masks come off. We found a nice mutual well- being amongst men. It was beautiful. 54 by Barbara Meneses
  • 57. Kerry Phillips, the man that built a mental health football team talks to William Bitibiri When Ian wright is your uncle and you have Shaun and Bradley Wright Phillips as your cousins, naturally you are in for a best-in- class footballing education. When those family ties take you into a lifetime of following Arsenal football club around the country, some may disagree, but Kerry Phillips took those lessons, combined them with an awareness for his mental health to create a space for men to improve their mental wellbeing with Saving Souls Football club. “Football is one of them where it’s acceptable to cry, I’ve cried because of football”. Bearing in mind Kerry is a 36-year-old black man from south London, this should be an outrageous statement. At least it would be to someone who doesn’t get it, I get it – as a football fan who follows his own team – I know the feeling. Kerry goes on to set a scene, “Imagine it’s the Champi- ons league final and Arsenal are playing,” It’s then I realised that the scenario being laid in front of me was a dream scenario, nonetheless I let him continue. “Bukayo Saka goes up to take the penalty that he has to score to keep Arsenal in the game, and he misses, God forbid, you see a man cry and you cry with him, it’s acceptable”. Anyone lucky enough to have seen their team compete at the highest level can truly empathise with that feeling. That conver- sation with Kerry took my mind back to one of the Champions League most iconic moments, the famous Italian referee Pierlui- gi Collina picking up a distraught Sammy Kuffour after the Bayern Munich defender had seen his side ship two late goals against Manchester United at the Nou Camp in 1999. Kuffour threw a baby-like tantrum and couldn’t control his emotions. Nobody ridicules Kuffour for that, we all just understood – that’s what football does and that’s what Kerry wanted to capture as he created a football team. It was Lockdown and Kerry was feeling low and anxious and insecure – feelings that were alien before the pan- demic. A thing that most of us could relate to, he called friends to catch up with them in a time where they couldn’t meet face to face. It was those conversations that laid the foundations of Saving Souls. “Men don’t speak about what really matters anyway,” says Kerry. “So, during Lockdown it was just us making light-hearted jokes like ‘do you feel like you’re struggling?’, ‘do you feel a bit weird?’ – the answers were ‘yeah, I’m feeling a bit weird, but it is what it is’ but then it all really started to affect me. I was always a person who just got on with things, I was rarely anxious, but for me to be feeling this way I knew there was something I needed to do – I needed to provide a space.” The space that Kerry provided is Saving Souls. The Cat- ford-based club’s foundations are built on creating an open environment for men to come together in the name of football to drive conversations about mental health. It’s free to play for Saving Souls as “it’s about giving more than taking,” said Kerry. “We’ve had over a hundred different men involved and we offer a release through sport. If energy to release, you might release it at home, on the way to work, or while you’re at work. We have to find you a place to offload. here’s a lot of things that men don’t speak about, or don’t get the opportunity to speak about, be- cause there’s not really many spaces around to speak about it.” Saving Souls is an award-winning football club, recognised in 2022 as the London FA Grassroots project of the year and are current champions of the South London Grassroots football league but for Kerry, the forum that he’s created is his biggest achievement. “The most important thing is the forum because when you’ve been comfortable and meeting the new people that you have, It’s a lot more easier to speak about any issues that you’re going through, because you’ve actually built a relationship with peo- ple as opposed to just meeting somebody new and saying, I’m going to talk to you about everything I’m going through and that’s bigger than anything we can do.” Said Kerry. Pride filled Kerry’s face when I asked him about the real impacts that he’s seen saving souls have, he came ready with the testi- monials, and rightly so. One man said “Saving souls gave me a platform to play football where it’s convenient, and it’s a good community with good people saving souls, and maybe fall in love with football again, and being able to network with new people” Another said “The team has helped me a lot with my mental health, as when I’m home I get a lot of negative thoughts, and they’ve given me a platform to take those negative thoughts away”. What’s next for Saving Souls? Kerry hopes to expand beyond football as the organisation has announced a Women’s Martial arts club to see greater change in his community. Kerry knows there’s still work to be done. Kerry Phillips, the man who built a mental health football team talks to William Bitibiri When Ian wright is your uncle and you have Shaun and Bradley Wright Phillips as your cousins, naturally you are in for a best-in-class footballing education. When those family ties take you into a lifetime of following Arsenal football club around the country, some may disagree, but Kerry Phillips took those lessons, combined them with an awareness for his mental health to create a space for men to improve their mental wellbeing with Saving Souls Football club. “Football is one of them where it’s acceptable to cry, I’ve cried because of football”. Bearing in mind Kerry is a 36-year-old black man from south London, this should be an outrageous statement. At least it would be to someone who doesn’t get it, I get it – as a football fan who follows his own team – I know the feeling. Kerry goes on to set a scene,“Imagine it’s the Champions league final and Arsenal are playing,”It’s then I realised that the scenario being laid in front of me was a dream scenario, nonetheless I let him continue.“Bukayo Saka goes up to take the penalty that he has to score to keep Arsenal in the game, and he misses, God forbid, you see a man cry and you cry with him, it’s acceptable”. Anyone lucky enough to have seen their team compete at the highest level can truly empathise with that feeling. That conversation with Kerry took my mind back to one of the Champions League most iconic moments, the famous Italian referee Pierluigi Collina picking up a distraught Sammy Kuffour after the Bayern Munich defender had seen his side ship two late goals against Manchester United at the Nou Camp in 1999. Kuffour threw a baby-like tantrum and couldn’t control his emotions. Nobody ridicules Kuffour for that, we all just understood – that’s what football does and that’s what Kerry wanted to capture as he created a football team. It was lockdown and Kerry was feeling low and anxious and insecure – feelings that were alien before the pandemic. A thing that most of us could relate to, he called friends to catch up with them in a time where they couldn’t meet face to face. It was those conversations that laid the foundations of Saving Souls.“Men don’t speak about what really matters anyway,” says Kerry. “So, during lockdown it was just us making light-hearted jokes like‘do you feel like you’re struggling?’, ‘do you feel a bit weird?’– the answers were‘yeah, I’m feeling a bit weird, but it is what it is’but then it all really started to affect me." I was always a person who just got on with things, I was rarely anxious, but for me to be feeling this way I knew there was something I needed to do – I needed to provide a space.” The space that Kerry provided is Saving Souls. The Catford- based club’s foundations are built on creating an open environment for men to come together in the name of football to drive conversations about mental health. It’s free to play for Saving Souls as“it’s about giving more than taking,” said Kerry. “We’ve had over a hundred different men involved and we offer a release through sport. If energy to release, you might release it at home, on the way to work, or while you’re at work. We have to find you a place to offload. here’s a lot of things that men don’t speak about, or don’t get the opportu- nity to speak about, because there’s not really many spaces around to speak about it.” Saving Souls is an award-winning football club, recognised in 2022 as the London FA Grassroots project of the year and are current champions of the South London Grassroots football league but for Kerry, the forum that he’s created is his biggest achievement. “The most important thing is the forum because when you’ve been comfortable and meeting the new people that you have. It’s a lot more easier to speak about any issues that you’re going through, because you’ve actually built a relationship with people as opposed to just meeting somebody new and saying, I’m going to talk to you about everything I’m going through and that’s bigger than anything we can do.”Said Kerry. Pride filled Kerry’s face when I asked him about the real impacts that he’s seen saving souls have, he came ready with the testimonials, and rightly so. One man said“Saving Souls gave me a platform to play football where it’s convenient, and it’s a good community with good people saving souls, and maybe fall in love with football again, and being able to network with new people” Another said“The team has helped me a lot with my mental health, as when I’m home I get a lot of negative thoughts, and they’ve given me a platform to take those negative thoughts away”. What’s next for Saving Souls? Kerry hopes to expand beyond football as the organisation has announced a Women’s Martial arts club to see greater change in his community. Kerry knows there’s still work to be done. there's a lot that men don’t get the opportunity to speak about, because there’s not many spaces. - kerry phillips 57
  • 60. BREATHING SPACE The firefighters of the UK have one of the hardest jobs in the public sector, and with the image of firefighters being of brave and heroic, how do men in the sector get a chance to show vulnerability? The stress of being part of the Fire and Rescue Service in London is no easy feat. It is reported that on a normal day, the number of calls received can be between 350 – 500. Once one of these calls comes in, it is then the job of the Officer in Control at the station to respond to the situation the best they can and try to reassure the person on the other end of the line. Man Down spoke to Rebecca Dingvean, the Officer in Control at one of London’s fire stations, to get an insight into the stress this can cause once the phone is picked up. “For us it’s just a different set of resilience. I think for firefighters, they can use pretty much all their senses. We are behind a screen and that can be a bit tough for our people in control.” Unlike firefighters, Officers in Control do noy get as full of a picture as they would want. This makes the job even trickier in some cases, as Rebecca explains. “When someone’s screaming down the phone at you, you’re not quite sure what’s going on and your imagination can sometimes be 10 times as worse as the reality of what it is. Also, in some cases people don’t make it. And the line goes quiet, and you never get an answer from whatever happens. You don’t get the end result because you’re not there.” This will take a heavy toll on the mental health of the Officer in Control. Not knowing what to do or what has happened in a heated situation means that they do not get the answers they need. Photo: Tobias Rahbein 60 by Sam Shaw
  • 61. “WE RATE OUR MENTAL HEALTH FROM But what toll does it take on the fire crew at the front line? Mark Smith of the London Fire Brigade tells us more about what goes on after they have responded. “Nine times out of 10 we will try to allow the crew 10 minutes out of the room just to kind of gather themselves, have somebody with them, just make sure that they’re okay, get that adrenaline down. But the reality is if we’re getting multiple calls, you just have to go straight into another call and focus on something else.” It is no overstatement then to say that a lot of mental dexterity and toughness is required throughout every section of the fire service. But when it becomes too much, a solution has to be given. Walk and Talk 999 is a group aiming to solve the mental health problems men in the fire service are facing. Set up by a group from LFB the group provides a safe space for men to talk about their troubles with other members of the services. Rebecca Dingvean says“Understanding of equality can be quite different for different people. I think (LFB) were a bit nervous around the fact that it was men. Men in general are often left out of the equality support side of things. So we want to shine a light on this.” Annabel Green, a Sub Officer for LFB and Walk and Talk 999 founder, told us how the group has now snowballed into being much more than just a space for firefighters. “We started off just wanting to help firefighters and then it was the MET enjoyed the idea too. The London ambulance enjoyed the idea as well, so it really was like, that’s when walk and talk became Walk and Talk 999. And that’s why if you see our symbol, we’ve got the red, the blue, and the green. We’ve got the siren that we all share.” The group has really taken off across the country since it began, with walks now taking place in other cities such as Sheffield. Mark Smith outlined just what happens on one of the walks that takes place. “So we go around and we start off by giving some kind of rules and regulations, saying that everything that’s said here is confidential. Then we go around and we rate our mental health from one to 10, one being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Once we’ve done that, then we go off for a walk.” The walks take place in quiet areas in natural surroundings. Mark tells Man Down what effect this has after the walk finishes. “Everybody is usually feeling better than they were just getting out in nature, just walking around the suns out, just not having your phone in front of you for an hour just to, to talk.” If you or anyone you know is a member of the emergency services and wishes to get involved, drop Walk and Talk a message. Photo: Walk&Talk999 Logo: Walk & Talk 999 1 TO 10 61
  • 62. A LOOK INTO THE TROUBLING NHS WAITING TIMES Frustration. That’s the only word me and millions of others have year after year. Data from the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that one in four mental health patients are being forced to wait 12 weeks to begin treatment - a real kick in the teeth. Why? Why are the waiting times so incredibly high? Why have the services been impacted so heavily in the last few years? Is the entire blame shifted onto the global pandemic or is that just an excuse for the disastrous Conservative government - who’ve managed to dismantle the NHS since they’ve been in power. John-Barry, a mental health nurse, believes the latter to be the case. “Simple answer is long term underfunding and a lack of resources. There has been a consistent drop in mental health beds for a long time, and the NHS only admits patients who are emergency cases,” he said. The 42-year-old, who pursued his career in mental health after being inspired by his parents who were also mental health nurses, said that this crisis leads to those with mental health problems being placed on waiting lists. He continued:“All research shows that early intervention is key to good outcomes for mental health problems, but we are doing the direct opposite to that at the moment.” And John certainly thinks that the Conservative government are to blame for the lengthy waiting times. “The last 10 years have seen a systematic depletion of funds and people, but more than anything else they have destroyed nurses. The Tory government decided to take away the nursing bursary that paid people to be nurses, and now they are picking a fight with nurses over pay.” The nursing bursary that John is referring to is the bursary that was available to student nurses, and offered them up to £10,000 a year in funding – but was scrapped by the Conservative government in the late 2010s. And it seems as if nurses, including John, have had enough. After years of intense back and forth, over pay and patient safety, NHS staff have begun to strike. December 2022 saw the first wave of strikes take place and they have made their way into the New Year. “I am fully supportive of them. Nurses have never been on strike, but they have also never been treated so badly. It all comes down to pay. Pay nurses more!” John demanded. Jules Morrison, CEO for men’s mental health charity HiS, echoed John’s statements over the NHS crisis. “There is no funding for mental health,”she told me. She said: “COVID is simply an excuse. There is nothing in place. 62 by Narent Sejdija
  • 63. Following the nurses strikes, Man Down writer, Narent Sejdija, explores the NHS waiting times that have struck Britain in this strong opinion piece The system breaks down men who want help. It’s like a game of snakes and ladders.” She continued:“Men are isolated, mentally. The waiting times and services leave them extremely broken. Mental health is secondary to physical.” When asked what the NHS and the government can do to improve waiting times and services, she responded:“Fund charities like us.” HiS charity, a non-profit charity, specialises in helping and treating men who are experiencing mental health problems. Jules said:“We meet the whole person’s needs. We emphasize on well-being and those same men that are extremely broken by the system, or let down, leave us thriving, not surviving.” The charity offers a range of support for men, including holistic therapies and counselling. Men who are struggling can refer themselves online, and their helpline is available 24/7, 365 days a year. Jules explained that the charity has helped a number of men, including those who suffer with trauma, particularly childhood issues. She also added that army veterans and soldiers benefited from the services provided. Whilst the waiting times have made things harder for those who wish to seek help immediately, numerous charities, such as HiS, have done a wonderful job at helping those who struggle. Data shows patients are wating for more than 8 weeks for a diagnostic services and 14 weeks for therapy services for december 2022. 63
  • 64. Grief. A suckerpunch to the heart and mind when losing someone who meant a lot to you. Whether that’s a family member, friend, pet or even your favourite football player. It is an enormous toll which can take over mental health for a while. However, it is not something you have to go through alone. Strongmen have created supportive services to aid and comfort men going through tough times. Their awareness of men's emotional and physical health conditions, which tend to be overlooked, provide a sense of security in knowing that you are not going through this struggle alone. Strongmen offer several services which you can reach out for others to help you. Man2Man is another example - the volunteer peer support service is telephone based with ‘first-hand experience of losing a loved one’. You get to have a one-on-one chat with a trained volunteer for a kind conversation which you can receive for six weeks. This service focuses on creating a connection between two men who have shared similar experiences with grief and empathising without feeling judged. It focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses to achieve healing and recovery. The best part about Man2Man is that the support is mutually offered and reciprocal, so you can benefit from the help whether you are receiving it or giving it. Another incredible service Strongmen offer is the ‘Weekender Retreat’which is where groups of men can relax and enjoy remote and calming surroundings and at the same time having conversations and doing physical activities in an environment where you feel secure and safe with others who have shared the same experiences as you. Even though you are with complete strangers it enhances the idea of creating a connection to similar experiences. You get to reconnect with nature and participate in a variety of physical activities to create a sense of achievement and purpose. Strongmen co-founder Dan Cross created this passionate project from his own recovery from grief and bereavement when he was also diagnosed with anxiety, depression & PTSD. The authenticity and service coming from someone who has first-hand experience of the symptoms and stages of grief can be comforting to know for some people. You can even get involved yourself by creating your own fundraisers and events through Strongmen as a part of their stigma-breaking movement. They have made it easy and accessible for men to register for support or even help give support. Overall it focuses on unity, strength and the journey to recovery and healing through empathy and achieving the mindset that you don’t have to grieve alone. you are not alone. How Strongmen could be your new support system when dealing with grief in partnership with 64 by Catherine Hayma
  • 66. editors acknowledgements thank you for reading man down. I would like to acknowledge and show my appreciation to everyone who has supported, contributed and worked on this magazine. To barbara, william, sam and narent. man down would be nothing without all of your talent, strive and resilience. this project was very demanding with highs and lows, but we pushed through. thank you so much. To my friends and family, jo and taran. your endless and unconditional support was exactly what i needed to remind me that i was strong and capable enough to get this magazine done. 66
  • 67. i would like to give a special thank you to matthew. there are not enough words to describe how grateful i am to have had you pushing me to my best abilities and reigniting the fire i have for journalism. you believe in me at my best and worst, THANK YOU. lastly, thank you to every man who used their vulnerability as a strength and not a weakness, your contributions are helping TO break the stigma. 67
  • 68. EVERYONE YOU MEET IS FIGHTING A BATTLE YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. BE KIND. - Robin Williams