Opening Up with Mantality

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This International Men’s Day we spoke to Mantality Society President Ollie Vickers about inclusivity and the importance of the society for men at the University of Leeds.

Mantality is an inclusive, male mental health society which was set up 3 years ago at Leeds University. The society has some amazing values and I was lucky enough to interview the society President, Ollie Vickers, who has been actively involved in the society during his time at University.

In 2017 James Burke, a Leeds University student tragically took his own life. This devastating event inspired some of the rugby team members to group together and to form a society in partnership with Stevie Ward, the Mantality founder and a Leeds Rhinos rugby player. The society aims to open up conversations with men about mental health and to provide them with confidence and resilience to become the strongest version of themselves.

The society holds regular meetings in the Baines Wing (Seminar room 2.15) every two weeks from 6-8pm. Meetings have a relaxed atmosphere, and the society encourages anyone to come along! You don’t have to be suffering from mental health issues, but it is an amazing place for men to discuss their feelings and emotions with a group of guys who may experience similar sentiments. Another huge advantage of the society is that it is completely free for anyone, with no membership fee! 

Furthermore, the society is really informal in regard to attendance so you don’t need to feel any pressure if you want to get involved! The next meetings will be on the 19th of November and the 3rd of December 2019. Ollie and other society members are hoping to meet and welcome some new members to the group. 

Ollie and the society organise their meetings based on themes. Past themes have included: relationships; staying focused; mental health in sport; fears; courage; core values, and family issues. 

The society has also carried out some collaborations with other societies including the Bereaved Student Network, Yoga Society, Snooker and Pool, Men’s Rugby League, and Women’s Football. 

Ollie wants the society to be relaxed and comfortable for everyone. In the interview he said: “I find laughing is a great way of relaxing everyone in the room”

The society are aware that LUU offers some great services in regard to mental health. Nevertheless, due to no fault of its own, lots of men at Leeds University don’t feel comfortable approaching these services or feel that their issues are not serious enough to discuss with these professionals. 

Mantality offers a safe space for men to talk about their feelings without any pressure or judgement. The social, chatty and light-hearted atmosphere of the meetings are a really great way for men to connect with their emotions and truly discuss how they are feeling.

Ollie also spoke to me about how the society aims to be inclusive. Whilst it is mainly focussed on male mental health and communication, the society is also open to female contributions. The society have taken on-board recommendations from female mental health nurses for the themes and ideas in their meetings. Furthermore, they have female involvement through writing newsletters and organisation of the meetings and events within the society.

Ollie is passionate about maintaining and developing the society within LUU. He would love to see new members at the meetings. He often encourages current members to bring a friend along and to spread the word about all of the great things he develops within the society.

Some of his future aims and prospects include inviting guest speakers to the meetings and working alongside some other mental health charities, such as Beat, a charity combatting eating disorders- an issue which is often rarely discussed amongst the male population.

The key messages Ollie portrayed in the interview were that the society is completely free, very inclusive and would love to welcome new members. The society works to provide a great place for men to discuss their emotions while combatting the stigmas associated with male mental health. It is a really great society and I strongly recommend you get involved.

If you would like to find out more information about Mantality, please visit their Facebook page and feel free to drop them a message.

Photo credit: LUU Mantality Facebook page