Organization founder Hailey Kupiak told Global News their first event, Men-Tell All, on Oct. 14 will shine a light on the extreme stigmas that men face regarding mental wellness.
“Boys need to be tough, boys can’t have feelings … these are sayings we have grown up around for years. The event features five empowering male mental health advocates I have the pleasure of knowing from across Manitoba. They will be sharing their personal stories with mental health including struggles and triumphs, with the hope of reaching boys and men struggling in our community.”
Public speaker and author Brysen Johnson is one of those advocates.
He said he had what he considers to be a fairly normal life growing up, but encountered bullying throughout childhood and as a young adult.
“This caused me to fall into a deep depression many times throughout my life and make me question if I wanted to be alive,” Johnson said.
One of the more challenging behaviours he faced was denial and disbelief when he tried to share his story of bullying, worsened by claims that he was lying to get attention.
Johnson was motivated to get help and find ways to help others after seeing family members and friends were also struggling with their mental health.
“I wanted to take control over the things that had controlled my life for so long, to give a voice to the people I knew who couldn’t speak for themselves.”
His mental health improved, he said, when he began speaking out and writing his book.
READ MORE: Mental health resources for Manitobans
His message? Focus on what matters.
“If you have a story that you think will help people, don’t be afraid to share it. Understand that not everyone’s going to like or agree with you, but to remember that you’re sharing your pain to give others strength.”
Johnson encourages anyone who struggles with depression or emotional pain to “surround yourself with people that only want the best for you, and to not waste your time worrying about the rest.”
Johnson will be sharing his story at the Men Tell-All event on Oct. 14 at the Handsome Daughter on Sherbrook Avenue.
Kupiak said tickets are available online on EventBrite for $10 with all proceeds going to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) – Manitoba branch.
CMHA runs free mental health programming and counselling for community members, including a crisis centre. For help navigating the Manitoba mental health system, go to the CMHA website.
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