Interview with founder of Be ManKind Part 2 as it Launches Across the University of Bristol

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The Be ManKind mental health campaign, raising awareness for men’s mental health across Bristol University has launched ‘part 2’ on Monday, March the 5th.

The campaign, started last year, aims to increase awareness of men’s mental health and aims to make men feel more comfortable speaking about their emotions through video interviews with nearly 40 men from across the University of Bristol. The campaign also promotes exercise and sport to combat and deal with stress and mental health during their time at university.

The Be ManKind project has had a huge success over the past year, supported and endorsed by both the SU and the Sports centres across Bristol.

Furthermore, the campaign’s success was clearly shown with the student body voting in favour last week at the AMM for their ‘Be ManKind Active’ proposal, for the male equivalent of the female-based exercise programmes the SU currently offers.

I spoke with the founder of the campaign, Olivia Huxtable to ask her a few questions surrounding the release of the Be ManKind part 2 Campaign:

What was the original inspiration behind the project?

Sport massively helped me when I was personally struggling in first year. I noticed that when I was struggling, I felt comfortable talking to my female friends or mum and had outlets to voice my problems, but I wondered if men had that same opportunity. I always felt a lot better after talking about what I was feeling, and I realised that if men didn't have that option, their problems could harbour and become a lot bigger.

With the release of part 2 of the campaign, what has been the response from both the students and the university?

The response has been incredible as always. The support and gratitude people express for the men who have taken part is overwhelming. For me, my favourite part is when I get messages from random people saying the videos have helped them breach the topic with friends or family who have struggled. Hearing that it's starting conversations about mental health is all I wanted.

What has been the best part of this campaign and what has been the hardest?

The best part has been going on a journey with the men who have taken part. Most of them I met for the first time in their interviews, and then within an hour I knew more about their personal life and struggles than probably a lot of their friends. To then see the reaction to their videos on Facebook, and seeing the support they've received is like the last bit of the puzzle for me. The hardest part has been the time commitment alongside being in 3rd year. It's a project that can easily take all of my attention and time if I let it, but I had to really be strict with myself and stop working on it at times and actually pay some attention to my degree! Also, the pressure and nerves of releasing something on social media that you've worked so long and hard on is quite daunting.

Considering the Be ManKind Active motion was passed in the AMM the other week are there any other motions or ideas you would consider putting forward to tackle men's mental health?

I think it's more about a change in attitude and not necessarily making institutional changes. Hopefully with campaigns like this, we will see a more open and accepting spirit amongst us all. Saying that, I hope a focus and drive on sport will continue because I think it is such a fundamental necessity for students to be able to combat stress, and I think the uni needs to recognise the importance of sport more.

Finally, what’s the next step for the campaign?

For me, I'm unsure if I could commit to a project this big alongside my masters. But never say never - I said after Part 1 I wouldn't do another one yet here we are. I’d like to leave it open for others to continue, whether that’s with a similar approach or not. I just think it’s important to carry on creating awareness.

The Be ManKind Facebook page will release it’s last video interview tomorrow and will release all the videos in April, accompanied by at least 3 more.

Featured Image: Facebook / Be ManKind


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