5 November 2020

SPEAKING UP FOR MENTAL HEALTH

We talk to Movember Community Ambassador and founder of Talking Mental Hong Kong
3 MIN READ
Aaron Stadlin-Robbie is half Kiwi, half Hong Kong Chinese, who grew up in Hong Kong with his mum, dad, and two brothers.  In 2019, he started a digital content platform called Talking Mental, the first of its kind in Hong Kong. Aaron has been working with Movember in Hong Kong to encourage men to speak more openly about their mental health challenges.

INSPIRED TO TALK
In 2013 Aaron started having anxiety and panic attacks and, for the first year, was misdiagnosed with a  vitamin B12 deficiency. It wasn’t until he was introduced to a psychiatrist, who confirmed that he was in fact suffering anxiety and panic attacks. It was a great relief for Aaron to understand what the problem actually was. After a few years, Aaron realised that talking about the problem really benefited him.  This was the inspiration behind Talking Mental, a platform where he can speak frankly about his issues. He speaks to various experts, helping his audience figure out what support might work for them, because getting help in Hong Kong is an expensive and often confusing process.

IT'S HARD FOR MEN TO TALK OPENLY
Aaron explains, “It’s harder for guys to talk openly. I feel as men, we always like to feel that we are in control.  Because of that, we have trouble talking about a subject where we can be perceived as lost or vulnerable - particularly in the work environment where we don’t want colleagues second-guessing our decisions.

“Men are definitely different to women when sharing about mental health. Women are so quick to be there and support without any hesitation. Naturally, as men, it takes a little longer to jump in. But in my experience, once you have that relationship, men are not only supportive but are great at sharing struggles. 

“We need to change the narrative on how mental health is perceived. With physical health, men talk about their injuries all the time as there is a certain strength to battling through an injury while still performing. There is no shame in taking time off to heal from that injury. Once we see mental health in the same light, we’ll see men talk about it without thinking twice.”

WHAT IS TALKING MENTAL?
Talking Mental is a digital content platform working to fill the void in resources within the realm of mental health with relatable materials.  The scope of work ranges from working with corporates and creating engaging material for their employees, to creating external campaigns that can raise awareness in the  wider community

WHAT MEN CAN DO?
Aaron’s advice to help men deal with mental health issues.  “I believe it’s about releasing the pressure valve as often as possible. Find hobbies to take your mind off things that stress you out or surround yourself with people that will listen to issues that you can get off your chest. It’s by releasing small stresses more often that avoids a major build-up of issues.”

CHANGING ATTITUDES
Aaron would like to encourage everyone to change the way we perceive mental health. “Too often in articles or presentations, it starts with a hard-hitting stat like 1 out of 6 people will deal with mental health illness. I honestly think right there, we need to change that to say 6 out of 6 people deal with mental health illness, it just depends where on the spectrum we are. If we are human then we will undoubtedly be dealing with some form of mental health struggle at some point. Just like 6 out of 6 people will be dealing with physical health struggles throughout our lives. Once we have that realisation, then we can start focusing on the red flags that we commonly ignore. Remember you are not alone and more often than not there is a cure. It’s about finding the right one for you. And the best way to figure it out? Start talking.”