YoungMinds Activist, Dominic Graham, talks about why he feels it is so important for young men, like himself, to get take up the challenge and volunteer to make a change in how men think about mental health.
Fellas - you’ve escaped this for long enough. That’s right; we’re going to talk about the ‘f’ word - ‘feelings’. Those big, scary things that many of us pretend we don’t have.
The idea that a man - of any age - should act emotionless and detached is completely outdated. Yet, every day there are young men everywhere who believe they are not able to speak freely about the feelings they have pent up inside.
The reason, many agree and possibly too quickly, is that there’s a stigma attached to men speaking out about the issues they are harbouring. Although this definitely has some basis, as a 19 year old man, I would argue a more accurate reason is they either don’t feel their plight is worthy of receiving help or they don’t want to attract attention. Although this seems a dramatic simplification of a huge issue (there isn’t one answer) now is the time for change.
Why become a YoungMinds Activist?
We need to make change and as young men, we need to lead it. There simply aren’t enough male activists and we want to change this.
We are living in a society where if you are a man between 20 and 49 you're more likely to die from suicide than cancer, road accidents or heart disease. The Guardian, 20th August 2014 - It is the biggest threat that us young men face.
This is why the participation of men in mental health volunteering is crucial. It helps make the message relatable to other young men and enables volunteers to form a connection.
Don’t worry if you know diddly squat about mental health. Before I started as a YoungMinds Activist I hadn’t had any personal experience with mental health. The reason I got involved was because a close friend began self-harming and my world simply collapsed - I wanted to find out how to help them. Years later, and I’m fighting for change at all levels of government, meeting officials and giving lectures in schools.
What’s in it for me?
It’s okay if you have a few selfish reasons too; I wanted to become more confident in public speaking and additionally, improve my leadership skills.
I’ve had so many opportunities I would never otherwise have had: from launching huge projects in front of hundreds of people, to giving workshops on mindfulness (controlling emotions) to delegates at a conference – the list is a long one!
These skills that I have picked up at YoungMinds have definitely helped me in my personal life – I not only feel more confident taking up positions of responsibility at work - for example being promoted to a Team Leader in my past employment as well as seeking more opportunities that involved public speaking to a large audience.
Will it take up all my time?
YoungMinds isn’t asking for a full-time commitment. It all depends on what you want to do, when you have the time and what they have available. It could be a blog (like this one), making a film or even writing a speech; there’s plenty of opportunities available.
We need to start a new conversation and you lads to play a part in leading it. What are you waiting for?
We are currently recruiting for Activists in London.
Please fill in the downloadable application form, specifying which specialism you would like to train in and why and send it to Youth.Engagement@youngminds.org.uk before 5pm on the 30th of November 2016.
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