Even though we’re nearing the end of June, it’s still Men’s Health Month. June is a national observance used to raise awareness and education about health issues for men or those that identify as male. Since health ALSO includes mental health, we wanted to talk to some people this month is targeted for within our Still I Run community! Below, you’ll hear from Brian Reip, Still I Run’s National Chapter Program Co-Lead.
When did you finally become comfortable sharing your mental health journey?
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to hear Kate Fagan speak to student-athletes at Temple University about her book “What Made Maddy Run” and the importance of understanding mental health. During the second part of the event, the student-athletes had the opportunity to ask questions or just openly share. The courage, the vulnerability, and the desire to help each other in front of a group of over 600 of their peers was awe-inspiring.
I arrived at this event looking for ways to bring back to my K-12 school to help students and prepare them with some resources pertaining to mental health and addressing the transition to college. However, I left the event planning ways to share my story with colleagues and peers to call attention to mental health within our school system.
What do you think would encourage others, in particular men, to share their mental health stories?
I think it starts with education. We are starting to see more and more information about mental health being put out there, which is fantastic. We are also starting to see more male athletes speaking out about their mental health. Kevin Love, Brandon Marshall, Michael Phelps, Joey Votto just to name a few. If more men have access to and are willing to gather the information to learn from, and then really listen to someone else’s story, it will drive to the core of their heart and push them to want to open up seeing their ability to make a difference and maybe save someone else’s life.
Share with us an instance where you really felt supported by your peers and/or family members in regards to your mental health. How did that feel?
Five years ago, I needed to walk into my boss’s office and tell him I needed help. I had to tell him I was having panic attacks, and that I was struggling with depression. I had to tell him because I was going to seek out therapy and it was going to impact a few aspects of my job. I was terrified.
I walked in, sat down, and opened up.
After I said what I felt I needed to say, he looked at me and said “What can I do to help?”
I was blown away. That was one question I didn’t expect to be asked. He continued to encourage me to do whatever I felt I needed to do. He said he’ll help with whatever I needed, both pertaining to a plan of attack to address aspects of my job that were significant triggers, and getting the help I needed outside.
His support was, and still is today, invaluable.
Why is it important, as a male, to help break the stigma surrounding mental health
I have felt the deepest, darkest pain. My brain has raced a million miles a minute. I’ve battled “what ifs”. However, I was and still am fortunate enough to have access to information and resources that provide me with a continued support system. Many, unfortunately, do not.
I have a story, and so does every other guy out there. We can be stubborn creatures. But this stubbornness can put us in very unhealthy places. I hope that the more I am able to share my story, that someone else will be able to relate. I hope that the more I am able to share relevant resources, someone will feel led to take the next courageous step and get the help they need.
What tools do you have in your mental health toolkit?
Running and exercise
Art \ Visual Journaling
Weekly session with my Therapist