LooseHeadz & Men's Mental Health
I recently found out about the LooseHeadz campaign, which aims to tackle the stigma around male mental health and mental health illness. The campaign really stood out to me for a few reasons, not least because of the recent conversations I have been involved with as part of the Stop Suicide Campaign run by CPSL Mind (find out about those recent discussions here).
Mental health is so important to talk about, but you likely know that already if you're reading my blog. I guess the reason I want to introduce, discuss and mention campaigns like LooseHeadz is because I think there's such a good model being used to start and facilitate conversations, particularly when considering male mental health.
**Image courtesy of LooseHeadz**
To set the scene, LooseHeadz are a rugby apparel brand, who use all their profits (from clothing sales) to fund mental health initiatives in sport and schools.
I believe there are more clothing/ merchandise brands now supporting mental health and/ or other charity based work; with a few brands created with a focus on mental health (or other cause) from the start.
We all know this year has been really difficult, particularly for charities and community projects with most fundraising events and activities paused or canceled in 2020. So seeing brands like LooseHeadz supporting mental health in a proactive way is just great.
Rugby, from a personal point of view, still does conjure those stereotypical, outdated and honestly rather sexist images in my mind of a physically tough 'strong' dominant person. Which can, and does, create very real issues/ problems when trying to encourage someone you've described/ viewed and 'strong and silent' or 'loud and proud' to then start talking about their wellbeing, and things that within that mindset may be considered a weakness. You are not just asking that person to come forward for support, you are likely also challenging their/ your idea of what it is to be a man, to be a rugby player, to be an athlete.
Sometimes I think we talk about these values/ stereotypes as if they are something of the past or something only older generations experience.
While we are making progress and evolving our understanding of identity. I believe we like to think we have changed more than we have. These outdated and factually incorrect views are still prevalent in young and working age people. Acknowledging that is so important because if we don't, I think we run a risk of minimising this problem or thinking we have 'solved' stereotyping because we've agreed it's wrong or not nice; without taking much (if any) action.
LooseHeadz are taking action. Founded in 2017 with a platform tackling the stigma and focused on advancing the dialogue around mental health. Their founders believed in the power of sport to change the world for the better, particularly in regards to mental health and inclusivity.
The reason I know about LooseHeadz is because in November they and SPC13 (a creative sports marketing agency) collaborated with some of England’s most well-known rugby players, as well as non-professional players to "launch a powerful video campaign tackling the stigma that still exists surrounding men’s mental health. The campaign, which features a collection of hard-hitting video interviews with players about their emotions and mental health, serve to challenge outdated ‘masculine’ stereotypes that are often a barrier to men seeking help."
In the videos players answer questions about their own wellbeing and the culture of male mental health, particularly in 2020 which has included many difficulties for sports clubs/ teams.
How has the pandemic affected you mentally?
When was the last time you cried?
How many men do you know that struggle with mental health?
Through these conversations and campaigns like LooseHeadz, we will challenge the misconception of what 'being a man' means, what it involves, and how we feel about that.
I would love to see more of us engage in these conversations. To acknowledge men come in all different shapes and sizes and regardless of that, we all experience mental health, and we will all likely have times/ moments when we struggle.
The November campaign included a re-worded version of the famous poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling, with the sentiment of encouraging men to talk about their feelings. The players each read a line from the reworked poem, which is available on Youtube.
To provide a little more of an insight to LooseHeadz here's a quote from Rob Shotton, one of the founders of LooseHeadz:
“We started LooseHeadz three years ago because we believe in the power of sport to change the world for the better. We use our clothing range to spark difficult conversations, particularly relating to mental health, and we work closely with rugby players as they are idolised by fans of all ages. When struggling with your mental health, talking is one of the best things you can do yet there is still a stigma, particularly amongst men, to talk about such things. Mental health problems are every bit as real as physical health issues, and if left untreated they escalate. We created this campaign to encourage men to reach out to their friends, check how they’re doing and be able to say ‘I’m not okay’. If it encourages just one person to seek the support they need then that’s a life saved in our eyes.”
Something I really like about the campaign is the signposting they are doing as part of the promotion. Regular readers will know I talk a lot about the importance of signposting, so seeing it included as part of the campaign was a big plus for me.
LooseHeadz refer to recognised research and evidence from Samaritans, which found men aged between 45 - 49 have the highest rate of suicides in the UK. LooseHeadz then recommends three actions you can take to support yourself or options you could suggest to a friend in need:
Talk to a friend or family member
Contact your GP who will suggest the best treatment, from CBT to medication
I have really enjoyed finding out more about LooseHeadz throughout November and I'd recommend checking out their website and campaign. I am going to include a couple videos in this post, please watch them, consider what's said and start (or continue) to have your own conversations about mental health, mental health illness and obviously linked to this post, men's mental health.
** You can get this hoodie at looseheadz.co.uk/collections/categories **
If you would like or need some additional support, please visit the LooseHeadz signposting page for relevant charities, projects and services.
Thank you to LooseHeadz for making the included videos and images available for use in this blog post.
This post includes gifted promotion. I do not accept all/ many gifted promotion opportunities, only those I am really interested/ believe in. Additionally only when I feel they have relevance or added value to my audience will I include reference/ links to projects/ campaigns/ brands. This post has been written (mistakes and all) by me, in my own words. LooseHeadz have not seen or edited this post prior to it's publication.