*Article written by Ali Bushnell*
Student Josh wants you to ‘Talk It Like A Man!’
When it comes to men being able to talk about their mental health, Josh McFadden, a mature second year BSc psychology student, thinks there is still some way to go, but is hopeful that things are going in the right direction.
Josh is the Students’ Union’s HLS Faculty Officer and the Peer Mentor Lead for the Coventry University Psychology Peer Mentoring Scheme (CUPPMS) and, along with fellow students, Hristo Kirov and Samuel Ajoku, they have created a new podcast called ‘Talk It Like A Man’ to encourage male students to open up about how they are feeling.
“This pandemic is like nothing we have ever known and people deal with the mental health issues that it has caused in different ways. I think that men generally do not feel comfortable in talking about how they feel and rather than share things, they bottle it up and then the problems never go away, this is why we thought a podcast would be ideal.”
To emphasise how difficult men find it to bring up the subject of mental health, Josh gave an example of something he witnessed first-hand when he was working with a group of men at a factory:
“One of the men I was with got very emotional as his girlfriend had left him and he started to cry. It was really interesting to witness as none of the other guys could deal with it and didn’t know what to do.
“When one of the younger lads started to make fun of his crying, that’s when the rest of the men changed their attitude towards him and wanted to help. They started telling him about different apps and various websites he could visit for advice and it was amazing that the whole topic of mental health was suddenly something they all felt they could talk about.
“Being emotional and crying is unfortunately still seen as a sign of weakness in a man because we are conditioned from very early on to think that way. Men don’t cry, men don’t get depressed, men don’t get sad, but they do. Being sad is not a sin, we all get sad from time to time, it’s just that people cope with it in different ways.
“Over the past few years, there has been a definite change in attitude and more people are talking about this topic.
“We have seen footballers, musicians, politicians and even Royalty discussing their struggles and it shows that whoever you are, no-one is immune, mental health issues can be experienced by anyone, it’s a great leveller.”
The new podcast is hosted by men, but can be enjoyed by all and not just those in Coventry.
“There are five initial podcasts being planned, the first few will be just the three of us taking part, but as the series expands, we are hoping to get more input from our student audience across all campuses.”
Josh is impressed with the way the university and CUSU work together to promote mental health awareness:
“As students, we are doing what we can to support our friends who are living alone or feeling isolated. I make a point of talking to people on my course that I haven’t seen in person for a while, just to check on them.
“I think there is always the scope to do more, especially by the university and I am pleased to see how much information there is on the Connections Matter pages on the Student Portal.”
“We thought the name of the podcast ‘Talk It Like A Man’ seemed appropriate for what we are trying to achieve.
“There is the saying that is ‘it is good to talk’ and I hope our podcasts will be a useful, inspiring and informative way of talking about an issue that we all care deeply about. We are so used to looking after our physical health, now it’s time to give our mental health the same kind of treatment.”
For more top tips on looking after your mental and physical health, visit the Connections Matter pages on the student portal and the Students’ Union Live Well, Stay Safe pages.