June is Men’s Health Month. Our campaign theme is Let’s Hear It for the Warriors. This week’s theme is Warriors Breaking the Silence on Their Mental Health, and it ties into this week’s blog and the webinar topic. The following question and answer were part of an interview between Susan Gay and Jeremy Fields addressing the mental health and wellbeing of American Indian men. To listen to the entire interview, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3zqnKG4XwI&feature=youtu.be
[Susan Gay]: Though men are less likely to see a doctor than women for their physical health, in general, people find it easier to talk about and seek help for physical health issues than for mental health issues. There is a stigma, as we know, that is associated with mental health. What do you think can be done to help remove the stigma and get people, especially men, to see that mental and physical health are connected and equally important?
[Jeremy Fields]: Ok. Again, I think making a conscious effort to normalize that conversation within our communities and within our families is important. Within my own family, one of the things that we do is at the end of the day, we take just a few moments of time to sit out and name at least five things that we’re grateful for and then followed by, “Is there anything different that you would have done today if you had the chance?” or maybe even just asking the question, “What was one of the difficult parts of your day or a low point?” By doing this, we’re all opening those lines of communication, we’re taking care of our relationship with one another. But we’re also allowing an opportunity for those difficult conversations to come to the table and to be taken care of.
Along with that, I think a large part of it comes back to the cultural aspect of our lives and taking a look at spirituality and trying to remove that stigma. I think one of the reasons that it sits there is that that understanding of spirituality for a lot of our individuals has kind of gone off the table. Or, maybe it has gone out of context, and it puts it in a place where, it creates a very difficult space for you to be able to deal with or overcome a lot of the things that you’re facing emotionally, because you don’t have that absolute foundation, that intrinsic foundation that teaches you who it is that you are and what your intrinsic worth is, that nothing can change. And, you know, when you don’t have that to turn back to, that foundation to stand upon, it makes it very difficult for us to be able to address maybe some of the things that are going on in our mind or in our psyche. So, again, normalizing the conversation, and, at the same time, being able to look at holistic wellbeing. I think too many times, it’s one of those things where we don’t look at our whole being in an understanding that we have to take care of our physical, our mental, and our spiritual or our emotional health; in all these same things, there has to be some balance there.
Jeremy Fields is the founder and director of Thrive.Unltd, a leadership company owned and operated by Native Americans. It is committed to providing innovative, culturally relevant training for Native American communities, that focuses on proactive solutions for mental, emotional, and psychological wellbeing. For more information about Thrive Unltd. or to get in contact with Jeremy visit https://thriveunltd.com/
Susan Gay is the project leader for the grant Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Men and Boys in the U.S. This grant is funded by the Movember Foundation in collaboration with the Prevention Institute.