New Study Shows 1/3 Men Would Be Uncomfortable Discussing Their Emotions If A Stressful Life Event Occurred
Right now, there’s no question that we’re living in challenging times filled with social isolation, uncertainty, and loneliness. Honestly, it’s no surprise that the pandemic has led to a global shift in mental health.
With so many disruptions brought on by the pandemic, Canadians are reporting more mental health-related issues and stress month over month. A *Movember study released in May 2020 showed nearly half (40%) of Canadian men say no one has asked them how they are coping during lockdown. It’s safe to say that this year is proving challenging for even the most resilient among us.
Everyone has unique and nuanced experiences when it comes to issues surrounding mental health. However, men can face additional societal pressures based on existing stigmas in our society that seemingly restrict them from feeling comfortable sharing their emotions.
This November, we're tackling the stigma around men's mental health. According to that same Movember study, a third of Canadian men wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about their feelings if a stressful life event occurred. Worse still, *men account for 75% of suicides in Canada.
STōK Cold Brew Canada is passionate about generating awareness around this deeply rooted societal issue and the challenges men face. This is why STōK has teamed up with Movember — the leading charity changing the face of men’s health on a global scale, with a focus on mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
This November, STōK has partnered with Movember to develop a video series that fuels the conversation and destigmatizes men’s mental health, by inspiring Canadians to open up. The videos feature two notable Canadian entrepreneurs — chef Sean MacDonald and YouTuber Trey Richards.
To keep the conversation going about the mental health of Canadian men, we spoke with Trey and Sean to learn more about their experiences and why they are so passionate about the STōK and Movember partnership.
Sean, the owner of ēst, a modern, minimalist restaurant in Toronto, tells us how he stays positive while being a busy entrepreneur.
Trey, a comedian, podcaster, and business owner, shares how staying honest keeps him on the path to comedy gold.
Questions and responses have been edited for clarity.
You're both the definition of a hustler. Can you tell us about how you got here and what you’re doing?
Sean: I've always been motivated and hard on myself to reach my goals. I always wanted to open a restaurant at a certain age, and I did. Then COVID hit. Once we were able to open the patios, we were full every night. I had a chef friend visiting from Calgary and began doing collaborations with chefs from all over. I tried to build a sense of community and help us cross-promote each other during the pandemic.
Trey: Honestly, I don’t know how I got here *laughs*. Throughout our lives, my brother and I have had fun figuring out what we like to create and what we don’t. Just trial and error along the way. Eventually our work got to a point where we had developed a specific style of editing and comedy, and our fans found us, so we ran with it.
How do you manage the excitement and stress that comes with being an entrepreneur and a public figure?
Sean: There’s a shift in mindset that comes with being an executive and entrepreneur. There’s a lot of pressure, and I haven’t been the best at managing that in the pandemic, but as a leader, I’ve been figuring out ways to keep myself and my staff and business surviving. I realized that it’s very important for me to work out and eat healthily — it’s good for my state of mind and helps me stay positive. You need to have some release.
Trey: I’m a super chill guy, so the excitement and stress doesn’t always get to me, but when it does I be myself and stay with my friends. I feel like if you have a tight circle around you, and people that know you, they treat you for you. They keep me in check.
What do you have to say to folks who say real men don’t have emotions?
Sean: I can vouch that real men do have emotions. I think everyone needs to be true to who they are and express themselves however they feel necessary and [in the way that] feels comfortable for them.
Trey: Yo, grow up, you know? I say grow up and get with the times, that’s such an old school way of thinking that men don’t have emotions or men can't cry. There’s such a mob mentality when it comes to masculinity but don’t be afraid to be the odd one out.
Do you think you would be in the same place today without managing your mental health?
Sean: I wouldn’t be, for sure. For me, it’s about staying as positive as I can and doing the best I can. I think social media is a tough thing for a lot of people; it has a lot of positives and a lot of negatives. Don’t be too focused on that. I remember being a kid and going outside and playing all summer, and I can’t imagine being a kid today worried about how many followers I have. I don’t think that was the goal for the platforms. It’s about balance.
Trey: Oh no. Definitely not. Definitely not. Without managing my mental health, I would have burned a lot of bridges just dealing with things that I was dealing with personally. If I weren’t open or talking about my mental health — I don’t know where I’d be, to be honest. But I know it’s normal to struggle with managing mental health, so when I see friends or people going through things, I’m like, "Hey, I’m not going to take that personally."
What do you think of the stigma around men discussing their mental health?
Sean: The Movember video is the first time I’d opened up to the public about my mental health and whatnot. My close friends know what’s going on in my life, and when I need someone to talk to, I go to my parents. I think there’s a stigma that men have to be strong — people in general — especially with social media. People post when they're happy, so I think it’s important for individuals to not mask emotions and speak openly. Say how you're feeling — people can help you out. We’re all in this together. Humans are on this earth to care for each other and be there for each other.
Trey: Yo, honestly, I’m Jamaican and Colombian and I grew up in a tough household where it wasn’t always easy to show emotions, but as a kid I was very emotional and very loud and upfront about my emotions. I couldn’t help it. My dad was very tough on us saying “be a man, be a man.” My mom was the same way, “stop being a baby,” and I was like, “but I am a baby and I’m kind of sad right now,” you know? Being vocal about my emotions helped to break the stigma for me personally and I encourage other men to do the same.
What tools/advice would you give to your younger self?
Sean: I wish I hadn’t put so much pressure on myself. Of course, a little pressure got me to where I am. Be nice to others, treats others how you want to be treated. I feel like positive things attract positive things.
Trey: I think I had tools and support at a young age, to be honest. I was dealing with a lot in high school, but my friends didn’t allow me to be alone with my emotions, someone would always ask me if I was good. I wouldn’t change much, to be honest, just probably read some more books back in the day. *laughs*
What about the Movember movement inspired you to get involved?
Sean: I always used to grow a moustache for Movember — bleaching it blonde, growing weird moustaches for fun — and then I realized what they’d been doing to support cancer research. I think it’s amazing that their main cause is now mental health because I think people are finally saying “Hey, mental health is a real issue, and we need to find ways to help people." Maybe someone will see my involvement and see they’re not alone in this.
Trey: I just want to be the change that I want to see. It’s one thing to say things and it’s another to take action. I just want to encourage people if they’re going through something, to not be afraid to speak up and step forward. When the opportunity to partner with Movember came up, I was going through a lot, too, with COVID, and there’s a lot going on in the world, and it was the perfect time to come out and say “this is how I feel and it’s okay to talk and be open.”
Wondering how you can be a good mental health advocate for yourself, your friends, and the men in your life? Try using the ALEC acronym: Ask, Listen, Encourage Action, Check-In. Or, try Movember Conversations – a free, interactive digital tool (available in English and French) that uses simulated conversations to explore and practice how anyone might navigate a difficult conversation with someone they care about
Talking about your emotions doesn't make you "less of a man." It can help you to be a better man, a leader, someone who's willing to start an important conversation and encourage others to follow. This year, while growing your Mo and sipping on a STōK Cold Brew Coffee, check in with your pals and Stōk up a conversation. Together, we can change the face of men’s health.
If you're looking for support for yourself or a pal and don't know where to start, Movember can help.