Breaking the Stigma Surrounding Men’s Mental Health

For Men’s Mental Health Week, we spoke with Nic Brown the CEO of Batyr, an organisation that aims to break the stigma surrounding mental health.

Societal conditioning may have led us to believe things that are harmful to men; men shouldn't cry, they’re not as emotional etc. What are the consequences of this on one’s mental health?

The people that believe that obviously haven't seen ‘

The Notebook' - that's a real tear jerker! It is true though that for a lot of us it's pretty normal to have been told to 'toughen up' or that we just have to push through. However, emotions are a normal part of life and often aren't something we can control. Feelings of happiness, sadness, anger etc. are all normal things we should be experiencing. However, experiencing some of these all of the time or for an extended period of time is when we need to do something, as not dealing with it can lead to serious consequences. 70% of suicides are by men so we need to get better at reaching out for help. We also need to be reaching out to those around us and letting them know that it's okay to be feeling whatever they're feeling, whether that means crying or not.

This view on masculinity not only affects individuals but the community as a whole. What other consequences might we see from these beliefs?

A lot of people would have heard the term 'toxic masculinity' but I'm not sure that this is a helpful way to look at masculinity. It implies that there are inherent elements of being a man that are negative. Some behaviours we have learnt or encouraged can lead to some of the serious social issues we face today, however unlike our emotions, behaviours are a choice. We need to be making healthy choices every day to ensure that we manage our emotions in a way that serves the people we love and care about rather than do them any harm, and this includes harm to ourselves.

Have you ever struggled with a mental illness? If so, would you mind sharing how you personally overcame it?

I have never been diagnosed with a mental illness but I have definitely had periods of feeling really low and ongoing depressive moods. None of us know what life will throw at us and for me I was blind sided by something a few years ago. Although I thought I was a pretty resilient person, it really rattled me. I lost a lot of my patience with co-workers, struggled to want to spend time with friends and family and lost a feeling of purpose. I was lucky enough to be in an amazing workplace and had some great friends that just kept turning up and checking in. Honestly, it just took time for me to feel better. The psychologist I was seeing at the time introduced me to the idea of 'toward moves', which are the little things you can do every day and in every moment to take you one bit closer towards where you want to be. It's surprising how down you can feel in a specific moment or over a period of time but it does eventually pass.

How can we encourage more men to open up and not be afraid to seek help?

We need to start by being more real. We need to share our stories and be honest when we aren't doing well. Even if we think that we can manage it on our own, we need to remember that when we open up, it gives others the permission and comfort to do the same. You never know who may need this encouragement in any given moment.

What change does Batyr hope to make?

We want all young people to have positive conversations about mental health and to feel empowered to reach out for support when they need it. When it comes to mental health issues, we're getting a lot better at understanding how to be there for those that need us. However, I think that we still have work to do when it comes to feeling comfortable enough to reach out ourselves when we need it.




Nic Brown, CEO of Batyr - @batyraus

Home - Batyr

If you or someone you know requires urgent help, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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