Should men talk openly on social media about mental health?

I’ll admit something now – 7 years ago, my answer to the title would have been a resounding no.

I’d have said it would serve no purpose other than to highlight your frailties.

Keep it locked down, tell your wife, immediate family, close friends but don’t go broadcasting depression, anxiety, trauma and stress for all to see.

Some people would still recommend this social media silence but with mental health costing the country and NHS millions and millions every year, with suicides rising, bottling it up may be very British but it really belongs in the past.

If you want to say you’re depressed, or you’ve kicked an addiction to drink or drugs, on Facebook, or to the business world on LinkedIn, do it.

It will help you and others.

Don’t get me wrong there’s cave dwellers lurking to piss on your bonfire, to ridicule you for seeking pity or attention, but I was given professional advice from a trauma counsellor when I was costing my school a lot of money with me being off long term. Sonya told me to tell the truth. If someone asks why you’re absent – whether it’s a student, colleague, neighbour – tell them you’re suffering with stress, trauma, depression and don’t be ashamed to admit to a broken mind.

Good advice yes but when I finally got back on the teaching saddle and admitted mental health problems at a church primary school, I was booted out – the Neanderthal head and his hypocritical deputy did not listen or approve but ejected me from the job. Their prehistoric attitudes were woeful.

It’s easier now then for me to admit to mental health issues because I’m self-employed – if I cry in my home office, I’m not going to have Occupational Health and the Gestapo of HR flicking through the folder called “Quick ways to get rid of a maverick” – I obviously don’t cry now I’m my own boss either, unless I stand on a plug – but who wouldn’t cry with that?

So my advice to anyone suffering with mental health issues is speak up and speak out. 

In 2012, if someone had said to me, “Stuart in six years you’ll be paid to be writing about this shit you’ve been through and helping others as a writer,” I’d have laughed.

Admitting to depression, anxieties, stress, suicidal ideation is not a weakness – and if you admit them when you’re in a workplace and get shafted then you know it’s not the place for you.

I admitted all my frailties to a headteacher when I was ill and was offered a job by him – which I foolishly declined as I was still recovering – but that man was enlightened and wasn’t the type to see mental health admission as a serious character flaw.

I should have chosen that boss and that job.

But things are better for me now.

I’m well again.

Teaching is a chapter of my past that is shut.

If you’d like to submit your stories, please do too.

We are three open people with no other agenda than helping other men come to terms with, and recover from, mental illness.

 

 

By |2018-02-27T22:41:09+00:00February 20th, 2018|The Tribe|4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Ben Ross 20th February 2018 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    At one stage prozac from my GP probably saved my life, but you have to speak with your doctor. I was in tears!
    For me, finally realizing I was an alcoholic and therefore being able to do something about it was the biggest improvement to my mental health. The fellowship of AA is a great bunch of lads and lasses!

  2. Richard Crisp 20th February 2018 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Ben Hi…I am not sure whether you listened to Jeremy Vine today but he had author Johann Hari on talking about his new book ‘Lost Connection’. From what I gather Johann has overcome all kinds of personal struggles and his research for his book sounds fascinating. I only mention this because I suspect it could provide further aid to the lads and lasses at AA. Thank you for your contribution and please keep us updated with your progress. I wish you well…cheers

  3. Ben Ross 23rd February 2018 at 11:44 am - Reply

    Thank you Richard. I only listen to comedy on the radio these days! The AA 12 step program I believe can work as well in restoring sanity & happiness even if people aren’t drink and drug users. For me, I can only stay happy if I never pick up drinks or drugs again, which is (after a very difficult transition!) the easiest deal in the world!

  4. Richard Crisp 23rd February 2018 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    Hi Ben…I cannot imagine what it is like to find yourself in such a dark place due to drink but can appreciate how wonderful it must be to now be able to enjoy humour, as it was meant to be enjoyed. I am aware of the AA 12 steps and the amazing work this organisation is doing. Stuart and I are focusing on addictions at present and you might be interested in watching/listening to the Joe Walsh (Eagles guitarist) interview which is due to be posted over the next couple of days. His take on his struggles with drugs and alcohol is very interesting and at time very amusing. Joe has been clean for 20 years and is a major campaigner in the USA for addiction reforms.and greater awareness.

    Well done on your amazing progress to date… have a great weekend

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