Tuesday 9 March 2021

Why We Started Men’s Mental Health Podcast, Changing MENtality

Caleb shares his experience of developing and launching a podcast with a group of fellow university students through Student Minds’ men’s mental health programme 'Well Lads'. 

- Caleb

As part of Changing MENtality my fellow podcasters and I aim to eliminate stigma and raise awareness through conversation. During our episodes we have shared our own experiences with mental health as well as hosting multiple episodes with guest interviewees.

Personally, I think now more than ever is a great time to start a podcast, especially one relating to mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has locked many of us indoors, with another voice in the house being something many of us can definitely benefit from.

The discussion of mental health is something which I’ve seen become far more prominent since the pandemic started with many finding a new interest in the subject, possibly as a reaction to their own experiences during lockdown.

In total there’s 16 of us on the podcast team, we all have different experiences of university studying across the country on various different courses.

Euan McDonnell, a Biology PhD student at the University of Leeds, got involved with the podcast hoping to use his own experiences with mental health to help our listeners.

Euan said: “I hoped that I would be able to provide insight and support that I gained through exploration of my own mental health experience so that others could be better prepared if they faced similar things.”

The project wasn’t always a podcast and was part of Well Lads, a Student Minds initiative towards men’s mental health. Sam, a Drama & Screen Studies student at the University of Manchester, was involved in the project during these early stages.

Sam said: “I’ve been involved with this project for nearly two years, longer than the idea of the podcast has been around.

“I signed up because I thought I would learn a lot. The idea of talking about mental health was new to me when I started at university, but I was interested and I thought I could help out by being a part of it.”

Getting involved in the podcast is something I was pretty nervous about at first, as I can imagine many of my fellow volunteers were. The prospect of editing mass amounts of audio and listening to your own voice are enough to make anyone a little bit apprehensive. Thankfully we had training from Adam Ashton, co-host of What You Will Learn to show us the ropes when it comes to podcast production and promotion. It’s safe to say though we’re still in our early days we’ve started to hone our skills and have created a podcast that at we are proud to be part of.

Ben Brown, a Psychology student at Nottingham Trent University, got involved with the project to learn some new skills.

Ben said: “I was looking for volunteering work, mostly just to build up my CV. I was already interested in men's issues and talking about guys' experiences so I signed up.

“I'd never done a podcast before and didn't really know what I'd be doing in the group.”

In December, Ben was part of his first episode, ‘Talking or Taking Meds?’ where Ben, Aidan & Euan discussed the different mental healthcare approaches you can take.

Unlike Ben, being part of a podcast isn’t an entirely new experience for me. While at the University of Salford I was part of the student radio station and later studied podcasting as part of my journalism degree. However, despite prior experience I’ve still learnt a lot, thanks not only to the Student Minds team but also to my fellow podcasters.

Much of the learning doesn’t take place during training but instead happens during episodes when speaking to guests. I hope those who listen learn something new in every episode just like my fellow podcasters and I have when recording.

Mental health has always been something that I’ve been hesitant to talk about, especially when I was younger, but over the years I’ve learnt through talking with friends and family that these issues are far more common than you’d think. Through the podcast I hope to raise awareness of how normal mental health issues are, especially those which we don’t see as ‘typical’.

Below each episode we link to a variety of services that our listeners can use in times of crisis or when they’re needing help. These services include Student Space amongst a variety of others.

Since launching we know that a number of listeners have gone on to seek support from services we have signposted. It’s really rewarding to know that the podcast was able to help people find the help that they need. The very objective we aimed for when first launching the podcast.

To learn more about the podcast and the men behind it, click here.

I'm a third year Multimedia Journalist student at the University of Salford. I joined 'Well Lads' after hearing about it through my work with Make Our Rights Reality and hope to eliminate stigmas surrounding male mental health along with educating people about mental healthcare through my involvement in the podcast. In my spare time I'm a writer and poet sharing much of my work online as well as being an avid fan of professional wrestling and true crime.

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