Stand Up and Be Counted: Meet the Panelists - Jamie Williams
To be told to ‘man up’ is potentially one of the most damaging and destructive phrases in modern day society. Affecting men on a personal and emotional level, the terminology is cause for concern given the stigma that surrounds mental health, particularly for men. Being told to ‘man up’ or ‘be a man’ muddies our understanding of masculinity, cementing the conception that males need to be strong and silent, without emotion or fear. Someone who knows a great deal about this is Jamie Williams - founder of IMANNEDUP, a platform for men who have experienced mental health issues, a space where they can share their stories. Redefining what it means to be a man, Jamie ‘manned up’ speaking out and seeking the help that he needed. He will be joining our ‘Men Under Pressure’ panel offering his own perspective on the conversation around men and mental health, a narrative that is only now beginning to gain momentum, as more men are encouraged to speak about their experiences with mental wellbeing.
What is your company, what do you do and what makes it special?
IMANNEDUP.org is a platform for men with experience of mental illness to share their stories. Male voices in this space are the minority and I want to change that. The #IMANNEDUP movement brings together stories that are representative, because all guys find it hard to talk about their mental health, not just ‘lads’.
Why did you want to be a part of Float?
It’s different! It’s not just about fitness and looking the best you can (disguised as ‘wellness’) - it’s actually about FEELING good too. The workshops are to that theme and I’m excited to bring some male mental health awareness to the ‘Men Under Pressure’ panel.
Can you sum yourself up in one sentence?
A writer with a passion for fitness, adventure, wellbeing and mental health awareness.
What comes to mind when you hear the word wellness?
A peaceful synchronicity between mind and body :)
How do you feel the conversation around mental health and wellness is evolving?
It’s definitely moving in the right direction. As always though, in the case of awareness, is it actually leading to change? We’re all more aware about mental health (especially in the workplace) but does that mean you’re going to stop calling in sick at work with the flu and give the real reason - that you’re too depressed to go in? Not sure we’re quite there yet!
As a man, do you think the conversation towards wellness is more geared to women than men?
100%! Traditionally ‘wellness’ has produced the mental image of fitness, spa days and a yoga retreat. It is obviously so much more than that (irrespective of gender) and has begun to incorporate a lot more tools for the mind, too. Men need that just as much as women!
What message would you like to get out there at Float?
I want to challenge the notion that men should ‘man up’ and show no emotion. ‘Manning up’ should be about showing bravery and courage - which is all about showing emotion, especially when the world is telling you not to!
What does happy represent for you?
Happiness is just an emotion. It comes. It goes. There’s no such thing as happiness without having sadness. You can’t have one without the other - that’s duality. So for me, happiness represents those moments when you stop and think ‘wow, I feel great today’ and then you appreciate every single moment, because you know you don’t have the luxury to take it for granted.
Where can we find you at the weekend?
The only consistent entry in my diary on the weekends is a lot of time at the gym and an afternoon nap - always!
Where is home for you?
Dalston and Hertfordshire.
What are you reading/watching listening to right now?
I’m reading ‘I Really Didn’t Think This Through’ by Beth Evans and I’m watching ‘Shooter’ on Netflix - it’s sooooo good!
For anyone struggling to ask for help regarding their mental health, what would you advice for reaching out be?
If you’re like me, you might want to build some confidence by reading stories online first. It’s always nice to know you’re not the only one! Then try writing down how YOU feel. Then, speak to your closest and most trusted friend or family member and tell them how you feel - I’d be surprised if they hadn’t been through something similar.
Sometimes though, I find it easier to speak to somebody you don’t know first. I would really recommend calling Samaritans if that sounds like you - they truly are amazing and are available 24/7. Obviously if you are really struggling, you must seek help from your GP and discuss your medication and therapy options. This is just the first step, which can then really open up your options when you start to feel a bit better.
Do you have any pearls of wellness wisdom that you can share with us?
Learn boundaries! It’s genuinely the best and most important thing you’ll do for your mental wellness - and it’s so much more than just saying ‘no’. It’s about knowing your worth and unashamedly standing up for what does and doesn’t work for you, whatever the cost - even if that means saying goodbye to your toxic job, relationship etc... eek!
Fancy coming down to Float this September, grab your ticket here.