Peace of Mind: An Introduction To Mental Health Charity HUMEN

At Man Behind The Mirror we’re passionate about improving men’s health and wellbeing and a key part of this is addressing men’s mental health.

Even today, most men continue to find it difficult to open-up and discuss their own mental health. They continue to feel constrained by social stigma and outdated male stereotypes.

Men’s mental health is a health pandemic. Soberingly, a mental health study conducted by the Mental Health Foundation last year revealed some startling statistics;

  • 2 in 3 men in the UK said that they felt so stressed at some point over the last year, they felt overwhelmed and unable to cope
  • Over 1 in 3 men in the UK have experienced suicidal thoughts

We also know that suicide is a leading cause of death for men up to the age of forty. 75% of all UK suicides are male.

We’re also aware from a recent study that the rate of depression has doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown.

With worries about jobs, relationships, finances, as well as being alone, providing a hand of support has never been more important.

Who are Humen?

Humen are a London-based mental health charity founded by River Hawkins, a humanist and actor.

Hawkins established the charity after his own experiences with mental health issues, which included suicidal thoughts and self-harm.

The central mission of the charity is to improve and maintain men’s mental health.

Humen’s valuable work is undertaken through a mixture of self-supporting, anonymous weekly group sessions and public campaigning for mental health awareness.

"We really need to stop just pulling people out of the river. It’s long overdue to go upstream and help to prevent people from falling in.”

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Humen Spaces: The Gym For Your Mind

Humen organises weekly group sessions which serve as a safe space for men get together to talk honestly in a confidential space about anything on their minds, without risk of judgment.

Men attend the sessions to talk, listen, and connect on a regular basis. There’s no obligation to speak, many men turn up just to listen.

The sessions take place in four cities across the UK; London (Covent Garden), Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff. Under normal circumstances, the sessions would take place every Monday at 6:30 PM (BST) and last for an hour. Of course, they’re free.

However, given the current Covid backdrop, the meetings have been temporarily suspended. In their place, Humen has set up the HUMEN Space Online which is a forum offering the same experience online.

It is available on the same day (Monday) and at the same time every week (6.30pm) and will be ongoing until the physical locations are able to reopen. The silver lining is that now any man from anywhere in the world can now join online.

If you would like to attend digitally you can book a slot here (there is no need to book for the physical meetings once they resume).

A workout is more than how far you run or how much you can lift. Don’t neglect the inner workout.

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Humen Series: 5-Part Documentary Series

Humen also actively campaigns to promote men’s mental health.

To date, the highlight is The Humen Series, a powerful and thought provoking 5-part documentary in which men from all walks of life discuss their past experiences with mental health issues.

The 5 episodes each cover a selected topic; Change, Identity, Relationships, Perspective and Hope.

The series begins with a simple question asked of 20 men in Central London, “When did you last express your feelings?” Almost all of the 20 respondents struggle to remember.

The documentary includes interviews with a host of well-known celebrities and sports stars such as the actors Bill Nighy and Andrew Scott, model David Gandy, and rugby player, Danny Cipriani.

It’s intriguing to find that these successful people, at the top of their profession, who appear to have it all from the outside, have suffered and/or continue to suffer, from the same inner doubts and tribulations as the rest of us.

You can watch the documentary series here

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The Bottom Line

At Man Behind The Mirror we want to bring men’s wellness into the 21st Century: less stigma, open dialogue, honest information and easily accessible help.

Humen is on the frontline of this effort. It’s on the ground doing valuable work to support men and their mental health.

You can follow their progress on their Instragram page here

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This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis.

Written by Matthew Sweeney, Co-Founder

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