Opening up about mental illness can be particularly difficult for men.
That’s why three musicians from Moncton are sharing their own battles in a live music forum that’s also meant to kick-start an important conversation.
“Men are struggling with mental health and (struggling) to talk about it,” said Marty Bourque, a member of a show called “Three Mens’ Journey” along with Moncton musicians Frank Williams and Guy Godin.
The team of artists and health professionals has designed a project to raise awareness about the issues and challenges surrounding mental health, with the three music personalities sharing their stories, their research and their experiences in the form of testimonies and music.
By sharing their own stories on stage through music, the men are encouraging others to open up about mental health struggles.
“If we don’t talk about it, then we are not initiating the process of healing,” said Bourque
The trio is hoping to give others the courage to find their own voice because, at one time in their lives, all three have battled anxiety and/or depression, and instead of talking about it openly, they spent years trying to tough it out.
“The format of the show is literally as if you were sitting in the crowd and watching three friends talk about certain issues that they have lived and how to process it,” said Bourque.
“The hardest part of my entire life was accepting that I had a mental health issue,” Williams added. “It took me a long time to accept it.”
The three seasoned musicians have already completed about a dozen shows and have now partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick and will hit stages across the province in the new year.
“To bring awareness to the fact that it is OK for men not to be OK is really our goal in this,” said Lori Wheeler, director of communication for the Canadian Mental Health Association of N.B.
“I feel that a lot of men are supposed to be the tough guys, you know, be strong and hold the fort, there has always been that mentality growing up,” said Bourque, who battled anxiety and depression for years but kept it hidden from his friends and family.
Godin, who is visually impaired, spent years being bullied simply because he was different.
“Three men on a stage sending a message that it is OK to open up, to me, it talks to me,” said Godin. “Men have to open up. if you looks at the statistics, the highest suicide rate is among men 24 to 48 years old.”
The men say only after they started to talk did they start to heal, and since music in itself and sharing can be healing, they hope to tour the country inviting others to share.
“People actually open up, which is something that I didn’t expect to happen in a crowd setting,” said Williams.