New book: Let's open up, not 'man up'
Men are being urged to open up, not ‘man up’, in a new mental health book, Big Boys Don’t Cry?
Curated by two former school friends Patrick Addis and Fabian Devlin, the book is a collection of 60 stories by men - and partners of men - who share their real lived experiences and give advice for other men.
The book’s male contributors come from very diverse backgrounds – lawyers, postmen, soldiers, construction workers, Big Issue sellers, businessmen and the editor of this website. The causes of their mental health challenges vary greatly – loss and bereavement, childhood bullying, a chemical imbalance, the violence of war, breakdown of a marriage, sexual abuse – but they share common ways of combatting them.
Endorsing the new book, well-known mental health ambassador Stephen Fry describes Big Boys Don’t Cry? as: 'A brave and important book, providing a source of comfort and hope to anyone struggling with their mental health.'
'Wrapped up my identity in football'
Former England cricketer and Director of the Professional Cricketers’ Trust, Marcus Trescothick, features in the new book and says: 'Too many men are suffering in silence and tragically taking their own lives. Big Boys Don’t Cry? shines a light on a number of men who have struggled with their mental health but who are now sharing their story to show other men that they are not alone; that help is out there; and that it’s time to open up, not man up.'
Another contributor to the book Rhodri Jones, 38, a former Manchester United player writes: 'I've always been a perfectionist and a bit hard on myself - never satisfied with my achievements. These traits worked in my favour in driving me to get the high grades at school, and also to fulfil my dream of becoming a professional footballer with Manchester United. The problem was I had wrapped up most of my identity in football, so when injuries came along and ended my career prematurely in my early 20s it left a deeper void in my life than it should have done. Those same traits that once helped me succeed now turned against me. I felt worthless, like I'd let everyone down.'
Ten per cent of proceeds from the book will go to mental health charities CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) and Mind.
- Watch the extraordinary launch event - described as one of the best Zoom experiences ever by one listener. (Readers include Forum website editor Jim Pollard - about 46 minutes in.)
- Buy the ebook (£10)
- Join the Kickstarter crowdfunding initiative to launch the book in paperback (Fabian Devlin said: 'a number of people have asked us if there is a paperback version of the book. The short answer is ‘no’, but with your help, there could be!')
It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. So we’re asking.
In the UK, one man in five dies before the age of 65. If we had health policies and services that better reflected the needs of the whole population, it might not be like that. But it is. Policies and services and indeed men have been like this for a long time and they don’t change overnight just because we want them to.
It’s true that the UK’s men don’t have it bad compared to some other groups. We’re not asking you to ‘feel sorry’ for men or put them first. We’re talking here about something more complicated, something that falls outside the traditional charity fund-raising model of ‘doing something for those less fortunate than ourselves’. That model raises money but it seldom changes much. We’re talking about changing the way we look at the world. There is nothing inevitable about premature male death. Services accessible to all, a population better informed. These would benefit everyone - rich and poor, young and old, male and female - and that’s what we’re campaigning for.
We’re not asking you to look at images of pity, we’re just asking you to look around at the society you live in, at the men you know and at the families with sons, fathers and grandads missing.
Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.