A powerful new mental health book featuring personal experiences from men and their partners urges the male half to open up – not ‘man up’.
Big Boys Don’t Cry? contains 60 individual anecdotes from men working in a diverse range of careers from lawyers, postmen and soldiers to construction workers, Big Issue sellers and elite sports stars.
It covers the varying causes of their mental illness, from loss and bereavement, childhood bullying and a chemical imbalance to the violence of war, breakdown of a marriage and sexual abuse.
The self-help book, curated by two former school friends Patrick Addis and Fabian Devlin, is published on Wednesday during Mental Health Awareness Week.
England Ashes hero Marcus Trescothick, a trailblazer in sport for discussing his mental health, is among the contributors.
He said: “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 is Rhodri Jones, 38, a former Manchester United player.
He said: “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.”
There were 6,507 suicides registered in the UK in 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics, and three-quarters of these deaths (4,903) were among men.
This proportional imbalance has remained the same since the mid-1990s.
Addis and Devlin draw together 10 key lessons from the stories that can be learned by other men (and women) to help them stay mentally healthy.
They include talking, therapy, medication, visiting the GP, mindfulness, exercise, self-acceptance, avoiding alcohol and drug abuse, faith and hobbies.
The book has been endorsed by Stephen Fry, who is well known for discussing his mental health.
He said: “A brave and important book, providing a source of comfort and hope to anyone struggling with their mental health.”
Top 10 lessons by men, for men:
1. Talking – without doubt the most important step you can take.
2. Therapy – following naturally on from ‘talking’ is the advice from men to seek counselling.
3. Combining prescribed medicine with another of the activities found on this list, especially talking therapy, is recommended as the best approach.
4. Visit your GP – often one of the first steps that the men in the book took.
5. Mindfulness – the simple act of focusing on your breathing and learning to be present – not ruminating on the past or worrying about the future
6. Exercise – whether it’s an individual activity like running, going to the gym or taking a yoga class – or a team sport
8. Avoid Alcohol or Drug Abuse
9. Faith – having a belief in something greater than yourself – be it God, Buddha, Allah or another higher power – is a great comfort to many of those who shared their story.
10. Hobbies – finding something to be passionate about – just to distract yourself from the ‘grind in your mind
Ten per cent of proceeds from the book will go to mental health charities CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) and Mind.
For more information about Big Boys Don’t Cry? visit bigboysdontcry.co.uk