Try a digital detox. The internet can be tiring. We can easily find ourselves endlessly scrolling through feeds, so make sure you give yourself a break every now and then.
As a part of my series about “Mental Health Champions” helping to normalize the focus on mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Anna Worthington, Managing Director at Murdock London.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
Our Barbers have been looking after the men of London for over a decade. Regulars become friends. Because that relationship is built on mutual loyalty and trust, men open up in the barber chair, sharing things they sometimes haven’t told anyone else. Men’s mental health issues come through our doors every day and our barbers wanted to do more to support their clients. CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) has given our barbers a forum to talk about men’s issues and training to help clients who might be struggling. The more we have learned, the more shocking and important the issue has become for us. Men are dying every day, they need to know they are not alone and there is help for them
According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?
The situation in the UK is as dire as in America. The last report revealed 5871 men died through suicide in 2017 — that’s 12 men a day.
One of the insights CALM revealed to us is that it seems men are more at risk of suicide because the alternative is to ask for help. Men can confuse depression, stress, anxiety, and grief with anger and will often endure the side-effects without getting help to really understand what is going on. It is starting to change but there is a long way to go before men know where the help is and know it’s OK to seek it.
Can you tell our readers about how you are helping to de-stigmatize the focus on mental wellness? Was there a story behind why you decided to launch this initiative?
CALM is leading the way in talking differently to men and tackling stigma which prevents men from seeking help before taking their lives. We want to raise awareness and donations for the CALM helpline and webchat services as well as getting our barbers trained in Mental Health First Aid.
What are the 6 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?
Do what you love.
Taking time to do something you enjoy is essential for your wellbeing. Dedicating just a few minutes a day to an activity you love can be massive — whether that’s running, watching comedy, cooking, playing football, listening to a podcast, anything!
Try a digital detox.
The internet can be tiring. We can easily find ourselves endlessly scrolling through feeds, so make sure you give yourself a break every now and then.
Spend time with your mates and your loved ones.
It sounds simple, but spending quality time with the people you love can be a total game changer. If you can’t see your mates for whatever reason, try joining a sports team, a club or even volunteering somewhere. Being part of a community is a powerful thing.
Be there for others too.
We all go through tough times, so checking in on someone — whether it’s a text, a tweet, going for a drink, just anything to let them know you’re there — can make a huge difference.
Try and stay conscious of the chat in your head.
If you notice yourself being critical, acknowledge that and focus on the positives. Share your feelings with someone you trust. These thought patterns are very common and it’s likely your friends or family have experienced them at some point too. Understanding your triggers and the behaviours that make you feel better and worse can be very beneficial.
The benefits of exercise can’t be overstated, even just going for a walk can have positive effects on how you feel. Get outside in the fresh air and move your body as often as you can. Try to find a fitness routine you enjoy and do more of it. Sometimes exercising is easier as part of a team, e.g. joining a running club or playing five-a-side football.
What are your favourite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?
The Blind Boy Podcast
Hosted by Blindboy, one half of Irish rap duo The Rubberbandits, this podcast is an eclectic mix of interviews, short fiction, and comedy. With a strong cult following, Blindboy is considered by some to be the voice of his generation, exploring lots of issues including mental health. Check it out.
Griefcast by Cariad Lloyd explores bereavement in a funny and honest way, typically featuring comedians who share their own personal experiences. We recommend the recent episode with the author, journalist, and friend of CALM, Poorna Bell.
Aaron Gillies — How To Survive The End Of The World
Aaron Gillies is a CALM ambassador and bestselling author who writes about mental health with comedy and humour. You can find him on twitter under @TechnicallyRon — follow him, you won’t regret it!
Dr Rangan — The Stress Solution
Dr Rangan is on a mission to help millions of people deal with stress through simple lifestyle changes. His recent book The Stress Solution gives readers very practical steps they can take to better manage the symptoms of chronic stress and live a less stressful and happier life.