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  • Jonathan Isserow

Brewing Conversations: Beer, Pizza and Men's Mental Health

The idea of holding a men's mental health event in a brewery is inspiring. What better to disseminate information and connect with people around the topic than by moving into the community. Add beer and pizza and its a sure-fire crowd drawcard. This is exactly what happened at 'Brewing Conversations' that brought together a highly articulate panel to speak about different dimensions of men's mental health, at R&B Ale and Pizza House. Tony Ganton, spoke with honesty and courage about his own mental health, following his transition away from university football. The inclusion of his lived experience made the event feel real. Krista Fisher, spoke about her important research in men's anxiety. She said that for far too long the research focus has been around men's depression and there has been insufficient attention paid to anxiety, despite more men being diagnosed with anxiety than depression. She thoughtfully connected this to how men's mental health research might have fallen into traditional tropes of masculinity, that is, its more acceptable to conceive of men as sad, rather than scared. Her work opens up an important space to broaden out research in this area. David Kealy spoke with great compassion and understanding of the therapeutic process and helped demystify the experience. The simple observation that boys are socialised differently from girls was clearly brought home. When boys are upset, they are told to face up and be strong. Girls, on the other hand, are given space to express their feelings. This sets the template for the absence of help seeking behaviours in men. All three panelists 'researcher', 'clinician' and 'expert-by-experience' powerfully championed that attending to men's mental health improved relationships with intimate partners, children and work colleagues. Similarly, there is also a need to address the social determinants of men's mental health. Each inform the other in a potentially virtuous reciprocal relationship. The event was warmly chaired by Mitch Hermansen, from Movember. While hosting an event in a brewery might be criticised for excluding some men, on the whole, it attracted a lively audience. Thank you RMS, Movember and UBC Men's Health Research Program for such an innovative intervention.

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