The 8th of May marks the start of Mental Health Awareness week and I feel confident in saying that over the last couple of years’ men and women have become a little more comfortable talking about mental health issues, but there is a great deal more to be done.
One sector of society though that still does not talk about their mental health, their thoughts and their feelings are young people in particular young boys. Recently I met with an incredible man Darshan Sanghrajka who is leading a project that I truly believe is taking the way we look at young men’s mental health and flipping it on its head.
Rather than me prattle on please see below for the interview I did. I hope you too will be inspired by the amazing project.
Q – Lets kick off with a broad one, can you tell us about your aim at ‘Being Mankind’ and what you are hoping to achieve?
We are doing something about resigning the term ‘Man Up! to history’. There is an increasing difficulty for young men today to speak about their problems, worries and concerns. This often leads to the boys not having a healthy relationship with themselves or other people.
Our schools program and book is addressing this by sharing stories rather than trying to give prescriptive advice. Often many of the children who suffer are ones that do not do well in a traditional class room setting. We have found life stories from inspirational people told both in schools and through our book has had a much higher engagement.
We have published a beautiful hardback book called Being ManKind Volume 1 – the foreword is written by Anthony Joshua and it is full of honest stories from diverse role models, that show the beauty of humanity, individuality, and kindness. The purchasing of this book helps extend our reach and further promote our schools program.
When you pledge for a book, we donate one to a school and help inspire boys to grow into kind and confident humans, who understand themselves and are empathetic to others.
Q – There is an awful lot of pressure from the media these days, how has this contributed to difficulties faced by children today?
The role models that the media puts forward, don’t reflect everyday life and so are hard to identify with. The media tends to paint a picture where success is achieved overnight and still creates an unfair pressure to be perfect. Young people are faced with so many of these messages, that they’re struggling to navigate their path. We need diverse and positive role models, that shine as beacons that inspire young people.
Q – I believe my readers will particularly interested in your work in schools can you tell me a little more about it?
By using real-life stories from positive male role models, the workshop plans which accompany each donated copy of Being ManKind Volume 1, ignite conversations that open minds and help build empathy.
The plans, for 9-11 years and 11+ years, are perfectly suited for schools (PSHE or registration period), youth organisations and older groups (e.g. prison, PRUs), raising topics from mental health to sexuality in a creative, engaging and unique way. The common thread throughout the series is to inspire open, honest and individual thinkers, who understand themselves and are empathetic to others. When asked about what messages they had learned, one Year 6 student summed it up perfectly “To be proud of who you are and to be an excellent role model to others”.
Q – “A better relationship with themselves and others” is a sentence you come back to. Can you shed some light on how the stories in the book help with this?
The stories in the book are so diverse, covering all sorts of topics, from people of all backgrounds. Each story helps to highlight that we’re all different, and there is something special about that. If we’re confident in who we are, then we can be ourselves to others too. And if we can do that, then we can start to respect others and actively make an effort to understand them.
Can you imagine how powerful a message that is for a young person? We would have people opening up and talking about their mental health, asking for advice about things, forming better relationships with people unlke them. The list goes on.
Q – Have you any advice for parents that want to help their children but don’t know what to do?
Depends on the situation, to be honest but if you are talking about nurturing children, then the best thing is to create experiences. When children have new experiences, they learn a bit more about themselves and others. They understand more, they’re more curious and they find their path.
Q – How can people get involved in both fundraising and the schools program?
We’re now scaling our reach through a Kickstarter campaign.
We have just 4 days left in the campaign, so I’m hoping you’ll love this so much, you’ll get behind this right away (Kickstarter is an all or nothing crowdfunding platform, so if we don’t hit our goal, then they don’t debit any pledgers’ cards and we don’t see a penny raised so far).We really want to be in every school in the country and we want to make sure it’s free to the school and the young people. By buying a book, you’re helping us do that.
Thank so much for this interview and helping spread our message.
I hope you have enjoyed the interview and will take a look at the BeingManKind website to find out more. If you do want to get involved or have any questions please feel free to contact Darhsan
07738 00 48 20 and firstname.lastname@example.org
My closing thoughts on this are brief, in my November Blog I wrote about how important it is that we talk about our health concerns and worries, I showed how doing so positively affects cure and survival rates for various illness. Mental Health is no different, if you have any concerns or wish to know more the official Mental Health Awareness site has some great information and please don’t feel worried to speak to someone.
All the best,
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