“The person most likely to kill a man is themselves, more than any fatality or anything else. More than 12 men are dying every day just from suicide. My idea is, if everyone can be a little bit more open and talk about things as well as my personal experiences, I’d like to stop the stigma and make it into an easier topic to talk about.”
Meet Ben, creator of Stubble Talk, a platform created to tear down the stigma surrounding men’s mental health and show men that it’s okay to talk about what they’re going through. After noticing the lack of resources specifically tailored for men, Ben decided enough was enough and started up the platform.
The mental health advocate has experienced mental health issues since the age of 10 years old, he comments “At 12 years old I remember thinking about how I could kill myself, at the time I didn’t know why I wanted to do it or why I had those thoughts. It wasn’t until about two years ago that I really started to clock on to the fact that I had a bit of a problem and I needed some help. At the time, I moved in with my parents for a bit which helped and then I moved into a shared house with people I didn’t know and that was probably when I reached the lowest point of my life. I was experiencing suicidal thoughts everyday, feeling alone, depressed and my anxiety was at an all time high.”
“Every day I got home from work I wouldn’t do anything, I just sat in the house. It was only when I got a second job that I realised doing something and keeping myself busy was what was making me feel better alongside various other things you can do to make yourself feel better. I moved to Bath and formed really good friendships and relationships and in the past six months I’ve started to place a lot more of a focus on my own mental health as well as those around me including how I take care of my mental health and get up when I’m feeling down.”
Inspiration Behind the Campaign
After experiencing a bad time with his mental health, leaving Ben feeling low, he discovered the lack of resources tailored specifically for men and boys. Ben elaborates, “It’s either gender-neutral or aimed at females. I can see why it’s been like that because it’s a very hard thing to encourage men to discuss their thoughts and feelings but unless people try to make that difference, and get men to think about self-care and so on they aren’t going to know.”
“I will continue to do my video blogs but I’d like to start doing interviews with other men normalising men openly talking about their mental health. Until people start seeing men talking about their feelings, I don’t see how it’s going to get any better.” Campaigns and advertising plays a huge role in how a person will feel about reaching out for help, it can either encourage or discourage them.
Ben discusses these campaigns created around mental health as well as sanitary products (with the use of blue liquid) at length, where there is an unspoken need to be politically correct and ‘safe’. By being professional and carefully worded, this can discourage those who need help from seeking it. He remarks, “Make it [campaigns] so it’s uncomfortable, raw and edgy. Make it so that people have a sense of understanding and relatability rather than keeping it PC and so heavily streamlined that it’s no longer appealing to its’ audiences.”
As a feminist himself, Ben acknowledges that women face many challenges and hurdles that men don’t such as the gender pay gap and a long list of others. But there are other categories in which men are silently suffering such as domestic abuse, “There’s a Jeremy Kyle video that shows a man discussing how he had to lock himself in his bathroom and climb out the window… It’s deemed as funny and this is where it all stems from, this is why men find it hard to discuss their feelings and not wearing the trousers in the relationship so to speak. I think there should be complete gender equality from both sides.
The world should ideally be an open and loving space for everyone and the fact that we have to have these conversations shows just how far we have to go. What I feel is my responsibility is to try and do more to help who I can in my little bubble. My whole aim is to do what I can, as often as I can and to make as much difference as I can. What makes me the proudest at the moment is that I’m starting to get messages from guys wanting to chat or finding what I’ve done inspiring. If I can help at least one person, that for me, is a massive accomplishment.”
Ben’s plans to tackle men’s mental health stems beyond his current StubbleTalk work with the aim to create a space where men can come together and speak openly about mental health, “One day, it would be great to have a grand business empire of ideas and events. One thing I would love to do is create an anonymous men’s chat room where they can openly and securely chat about their mental health and what’s going on in their life where they don’t have to tell anyone that they’re doing it but hopefully it will get people talking about it in some shape or form.”
Each Sunday he releases videos where he is open and honest about topics such as body image and experiencing suicidal thoughts. You can find out more about Stubble Talk through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Ciao for now x