Male help seeking behavior is an issue that has resonated with me on a personal and professional level. Personally, I am very reluctant to seek help, both personally as well professionally. After reviewing literature on male seeking behaviour, it became apparent that males have a legitimate struggle with the concept of help seeking. According to the information listed in the 2013 Kids Helpline Overview, “boys and young men account for 22% of all telephone counselling contacts and 12% of online counselling contacts” (“Kids Helpline Overview,” 2013). Men are typically known to avoid seeking help if they experience problems. Furthermore, various studies have revealed that men from diverse backgrounds, including a range of ages, socio-economic status or ethnicity, are generally less likely than women to seek help for mental health issues. Regardless of the context of individuals, it appears that, generally speaking, all males are less likely to seek help than females. Both females and males are instilled with a specific set of principles and behaviours from a young age, that assist with the identification of what it is to be a male or female. The ability for a person to admit there is a need for professional help tends to be more common in females, which has a direct association with the focus that is placed on males to be more self-reliant, to be physically tough and have control of their emotions.
I have only ever once sought professional help in my life regarding my own mental health, when I was in my early twenties. This was a time when I was struggling on a number of levels, pertaining to the adjustments required in coping with adulthood as well as dealing with the aftermath of a relationship ending. In this instance, I sought the help of a local general practitioner, and at the time, this was enough help for me. I came to this decision to seek help by myself, but I did tolerate a lot of anxiety and sleepless nights before deciding to see a doctor. Therefore, it needed to become quite serious before I would take any action. In my own mind, if my mental health deteriorated again to this severity, I am confident I would seek help. On a professional level, if I was having a hard time at work, it would be highly unlikely that I would seek out the help of my superiors. I can hypothesise that the probable course of action I would take would be to speak to my wife, family or close friends, rather than seeking formal help from staff leadership. I personally haven’t experienced workplace bullying or harassment, and therefore can’t comment on actions that could be taken if this type of incident was to arise. However, I have personally witnessed bullying towards a work colleague. My role in this situation was largely as a listener for my colleague who attempted to manage the issue himself over many months, which was then eventually escalated. It is interesting that my colleague made a conscious choice to “put up with” the bullying for such a long time before taking official action with the leadership team.
In a secondary schooling context, the number of students who actively seek help with counsellors is traditionally very small, and is generally only as a direct result of a staff or parent referral to the welfare team, rather than the student seeking the help themselves. I have spoken with a secondary college counselor, who suggested that there is very much an instilled stigma in schools for boys to see a counsellor; that amongst peers, seeking this type of help would be considered as weak or unmanly. This counsellor made comments regarding the general feeling that they were on the lower end of the scale with regards to their school’s priorities. After researching this area, my personal attitude towards help seeking has not changed, however, my attitude towards this issue from a student wellbeing point of view has improved. I feel that I am acutely aware of this stigma and reluctance of males seeking help and now have an appreciation of ensuring there are appropriate referrals and follow up of male students who may need or benefit from counselling. Having an awareness of male behaviours and attitudes with regards to help seeking, I believe my role as a teacher will improve with regards to monitoring student wellbeing in my classes.
The data from research, my own personal experiences, both personally and professionally, and discussions I had with a schools counsellor, clearly demonstrate that there is a genuine problem regarding male student help seeking behaviour in schools. As we are educators in both wellbeing and curriculum, then it is evident that all staff and teachers need to continue to be trained in the area of counselling and when it is appropriate.
Becoming fit and healthy had always been a long-term goal of mine, one that I had never fully reached until a few years ago. In 2016, getting the motivation to regularly exercise was quite simply the hardest part of exercising! What turned it all around for me was that I feared that as a result of not maintaining a regular exercise regime, I would not be fit and healthy enough to be a positive role model for my children, and I had hopes for the future with regards to being more active and engaged with my own wellbeing and the wellbeing of my family. I started to form the belief that if I were to reach my goal, I believed I would be a lot happier in my life. I had honestly felt that by not being fit and strong, I was missing out on a fuller and more enjoyable life, both in myself, and with my family. A key issue in people maintaining a positive state of wellbeing, is that we must break away from present problems, and begin to focus on the possibilities for the future. I had often day dreamed about what it would be like to be at a far more advanced fitness level, a fitness level where I could go for longer and harder rides or runs without being held back by my physical limitations, and generally be physically stronger for my family. This day-dreaming was a strength that I tapped in to, to use as my driving force for change. Here, my strength was that I am visionary. An example of this inner strength was when I was twenty-seven years old, a time when I had a lot of personal debt and no savings. I was a young man, living from week to week, without much care for my future self. After I had met my future wife, and started to think about my future, and I reached a turning point, where I developed a new sense of drive and positivity, which allowed me to get out of personal debt and to begin saving for the future. Now, in my mid-late thirties, my wife and I have long-term savings in an investment bond and shares, and are slowly working towards providing a secure future for our children. I remember when I was twenty-seven, while spending Christmas with my wife’s family, I was reading a financial book, and I started to visualise what it would look like if we were financially secure. Here, I had utilised a technique called Solution Focused Therapy (SFT), in the form of a miracle question, where I pondered what it would look like to be in a good financial position and how I would get to that point. It was after this summer holiday that I began the process of permanently fixing our then financial problems. It is for this reason, I knew that I had the internal strength to make another large change in my life, and just like when I was twenty-seven, I needed to formulate a concrete and achievable plan for self-change. If I were to reach this goal, I would have a much greater sense of personal wellbeing, where I would be able to manage stress, sleep better, and have much more fun with my family and friends. Furthermore, I would be able to be more physically active with my children as they get older and become far more active with sporting pursuits.
In setting an agenda for change, I needed to develop specific goals, which would enable me to reach my preferred scenario. These goals must be substantive and challenging, while also being realistic, flexible, and sustainable over the longer term. Here, I needed to ensure that the goals I had set were both in line with my vision, and were ultimately achievable. I must ensure my goals are realistic achievements, rather than directionless actions based on good intentions. In the past, when I have tried to exercise, I have always used my own good intentions and actions as broad goals, where I have just told myself that I want to get fitter, but have not developed a set of specific goals that will drive a regime of regular exercise. These past attempts at getting fit have never lasted any longer than a month or two, and these failures have honestly left me feeling inadequate and worthless as a result. Here, I engaged in Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), in which these disturbed thoughts were a result of my belief that I must be fit and healthy, especially when I compare myself to some of my friends and family who are fitter and stronger than I am. I needed to accept my own limitations, and to dispute these irrational thoughts if I was to achieve my goals. Not only did I have physical limitations, but I also had limitations on time. Working fulltime, studying, and raising a young family resulted in limited time and space for other activities such as exercise, so in developing a realistic goal, I needed to acknowledge the reality of my situation. I had established both long and short-term goals with regards to exercise. My long term goals I had set were to be fit enough to ride my bike for at least fifty kilometres in under two hours, and to be able to run around Lake Wendouree, in Ballarat, which is a six kilometre run, in under thirty minutes. My short-term goals were to exercise at least three times per week, where one session is a weekend bike ride, for at least twenty kilometres, and the other two sessions are either running or shorter distance bike rides. Further to this, I also established the goal of doing weights sessions at home, for at least two sessions per week. I strongly believed that these goals are realistic, achievable, and challenging.
In committing to my goals, I needed to ask myself if these goals were worth my time and energy, and what incentives were there for working towards these goals. While the process of getting fit is hard work, in the longer term, the benefits will outweigh the short-term pain. I had the central incentive of being fitter and healthier for my own children, as well as my personal wellbeing. I knew from past attempts at exercising, that when I exercised, I felt great, and generally had a heightened sense of personal wellbeing, with lower levels of stress and anxiety. Evidently, the hard work involved in regular exercise was worth my time and energy. However, it is vital to evaluate the personal costs in working towards your goals and to identify competing agendas. Here, I needed to ensure that my goals were cost effective, where I needed to take into account the amount of time required away from my family to exercise, as this can be quite significant, especially on longer bike rides, which can take between one and two hours. It was also important to consider the amount of time that I needed to recover from each exercise session, both mentally and physically. Most importantly, I needed to allow for the onset of fatigue after each exercise session. If I exercised in the morning, then fatigue would affect my ability to function at work, or my ability to spend time with my family on weekends. Moreover, I had numerous competing agendas, such as my constant desire to get more sleep, especially in the mornings, as well as the frantic mishmash of my working life, university study, regular duties in raising our children, financial stressors, as well as the time needed to manage relationships with extended family and friends. While these many factors were significant disincentives to take the extra time needed to exercise, the cost benefits in being fitter and healthier over the long term far outweighed these minor costs. In committing to this self-change project, it was vital that I understood the costs involved, but to focus on the overall positive outcomes in achieving my short and long-term goals.
In the final stages of commitment to this goal of mine, it can be a liberating experience, where a clear pathway to achieving a set goal is revealed. I brainstormed a variety of strategies, which I believed would help me to achieve my goals. I certainly found this brainstorming process liberating, as I started to feel that I possessed the necessary skillset to maintain a regular exercise regime. It was quite challenging to self-counsel with regards to probing and challenging myself to list potential strategies. In particular, I focused on strategies that would minimise distractions and excuses, such as utilising the parks and walking trails that were close to my house, which should act as incentives to exercise. I also cited my own passion and vision as a key motivator in achieving my goals, as well as the use of GPS data to instill a sense of competition and drive into my exercise sessions. Many of the ideas I produced were highly pragmatic, such as preparing a schedule, regularly getting up early in the morning, planning for changes in weather, the management of my blood pressure, networking with friends and other cyclists or runners, and to improve my diet. I also cited the need for positive self-talk, focusing on why I should exercise, such as the fact that exercise has the ability to improve my mental health, reduce stress, and to increase the amount of good quality sleep at night. This positive self-talk allowed me to gain motivation and the ability to cope with setbacks.
In assessing my brainstormed strategies, I needed to commence exercise utilising strategies that were easily achieved, including:
Despite these easily accessible strategies, I found that in my first week of attempting this significant change in my life, I lacked self-control and used procrastination to avoid exercise. Here, I engaged in a form of procrastination known as the ‘contingency manana’, where I maintained that I was unable to start exercising due to external forces, such as the weather, hectic work load, lack of sleep, other jobs such as moving the grass which needed to be done first, visits from family, and finally university commitments. All of these factors lead to no exercise in the first week. This continued for the first three weeks, where I focused on the reasons why I couldn’t exercise rather than focusing on the positive strategies I had brainstormed. Correspondingly, I discovered that I had numerous facilitating forces with regards to my family. The most vital factor was that my wife had encouraged and pushed me to achieve my goals, and as very much the case with exercise. She could see the long-term benefits, and as a result, she ensured she looked after our children at pre-agreed times when I exercised, and encouraged me to exercise when I began to procrastinate. Another facilitating force was the closeness of walking trails and ovals, which allowed me easy access in terms of running. A restraining force was the fact that the weather is highly unpredictable in Ballarat, where a planned ride or run can easily be hampered by rain or wind. Despite these restraining forces, I have been lucky enough to have plenty of places I can exercise other than the ovals, and as long as I planned ahead, I could work around weather changes. I believe having the full support of my wife was the most important facilitating force in my plans to become fit and healthy.
My overall plan of exercising three times per week, with an extended ride or run on the weekends did not become a reality until the sixth week. There was a turning point, where my family travelled interstate for a week, and I remained at home. This allowed me to focus on getting adequate sleep and forcing myself to exercise as planned. It was from this point onwards that I visualised and executed a definitive weekly plan. It was by this point in time, that I felt I had utilised REBT. Over the first six weeks, I had attempted to challenge my core beliefs, which eventually resulted in my ability to think rationally and I was then able to assist myself in commencing a regular routine of exercise.
Fast-forward to now, May 2018 – I have remained committed to exercise, although the means in which I exercise have vastly changed. I now focus on resistance training at least three times per week, and do my best to do 1-2 session of cardio per week. I have realised over the last few years, that personally, I experience a lot of fatigue after running or riding, but not when I lift weights. The small amount of cardio is for my general health, but the resistance training is definitely something that makes me feel really happy, confident, and it is easily measurable in terms of progress.
The Clifton Review is a little hobby of mine, and being a hobby, I have't really found a niche to speak of. I seem to move between different subjects and platforms. In light of this, one of my current passions is investing, so I have decided to make part of my blog a review of companies I am investing in. However, I must say that this is not financial advice, rather just a personal opinion, which you can take or leave!
I'd be interested in people who read this, to know what you think :-)
Kind regards, BM.
Nuheara (NUH) is an upcoming company on the micro cap ASX landscape, which is focused in the realm of wearable technology. More specifically, Nuheara manufactures hearing augmentation devices. In 2016, the company released IQBuds, a game-changing product, allowing every day users to augment any hearing situation, whether it be zoning conversations in a noisy café, making phone calls, watching TV or simply listening to wireless music during exercise. This year, they released a new product; IQBuds Boost, which has extended the features of the IQBuds, to include EarID, a way for consumers to complete their own hearing assessment, to calibrate their IQBuds to their own hearing needs, all controlled via a smart phone. These revolutionary devices sync with a mobile app, which makes their products highly accessible and affordable to anyone with a mild hearing loss or other specific hearing needs.
Later this year, Nuheara will also release their version of noise cancelling headphones, in the form of wireless ear buds, called LiveIQ. Nuheara have been very busy establishing retail networks, and have secured themselves a place in the Australian Government $539M Hearing Services Program. This is a company that is fundamentally, very strong. I invested in this company earlier this year, and have been watching a steady stream of very positive announcements in this time. I believe this is a great company to hold in the longer term and look forward to their innovative technology becoming a new norm in not only hearing augmentation, but also general music consumption, where consumers who would traditionally use headphones will see great benefits with these products. This has been heavily traded, however, I feel that patience is definitely the key here.
Please note: this is not financial advice, but rather a personal opinion.
Every year I have a few flimsy ‘new years resolutions’, which never seem to pan out. For this year, 2018, I’ve decided that I need to lift weights. Now, just so we are clear, I am in no way someone you would consider to be a ‘lifting’ type of guy. I am the very definition of an ectomorph or hard gainer. I am super skinny, my bony arms and legs have measly amounts of muscle. I’ve always thought that this was who I am, and that I could not change it. But, I’ve decided that I want to give this whole ‘resistance training thing’ a full-hearted crack. I started just three weeks ago, with a 20kg dumbbell set, on the floor in my front room. Just this weekend gone, I purchase another 100kg’s worth of weight. So, financially speaking, I’ve committed to the program.
I spend countless time either on my phone or computer, reading blogs, forums and various fitness or men’s health websites, and I’ve accumulated a whole lot of knowledge about which exercises to do, correct form, number of reps and sets, whey protein concentrate, and the list goes on. It’s funny to be in this headspace, as I spent my twenties being a gangly musician, and I always looked at dudes who went to the gym with a hefty load of judgment and superiority. What changed for me was that, through my endless time on the internet, reading about resistance training, I’ve formed the opinion that it is less about me trying to ‘get ripped’, and more about my long term health in terms of cardiovascular fitness, bone density, maintaining healthy joints, and even scarier, the realisation that now that I am edging towards forty, that my muscles will start to disappear as I move in to the middle ages.
In terms of my initial thoughts, three weeks in, I feel great and when I am pushing and pulling those dumbells, I feel invigorated and really, really, alive. I have been trying to do these workouts in the morning, which has involved getting up at 5am, so I have time to have a coffee and then spend 45 minutes warming up and working out, all before the kids get out of bed. The only downsize to this has been feeling flat and fatigued at work on the days I train, although this has been gradually diminishing as time goes on, and I hope that it will continue to improve. At the start of February, I took photos of myself and measured everything. I hope to report back here in three months and then six months, in terms of tracking progress. Please share your newbie stories with me at our Facebook page!
A postal plebiscite on marriage equality seems to be nothing more than an atrocious and deliberate ploy on our government’s behalf, to confirm their own narrow-minded views. Older conservative voters will of course have their chance to vote ‘no’, while younger people, who rent, and change addresses may very well miss out on their chance to vote ‘yes’. If they government was actually serious about the public voting on this issue, it would be as a referendum, with people attending polling booths, where their vote actually makes a difference. This postal vote seems to be a way for the government to try and exclude ‘yes’ votes, but even if the outcome ends up actually being ‘yes’ to marriage equality, then the plebiscite is in no way binding anyway. So, you would have to ask the question, as many people have already, what is the point of this postal plebiscite? Australia is very much behind the times, as most first world countries have already legalised gay marriage. Marriage equality will happen in Australia, it is inevitable, and delaying it will only embarrass us as a nation on the world stage. Malcolm Turnbull is ensuring that in the years to come, he will be remembered as the Prime Minister who tried to impede true equality and progress in a contemporary world, rather that forging any real or positive change. On the other hand, Bill Shorten will be remembered as the opposition leader who represented all Australian’s and fought for equality in our nation. Turnbull’s government seems to represent the older conservatives, and seem to be turning their noses up at the next generation of voters who believe in equality. Yes, we are behind the times, but at some point, there will be a generational shift, and issues such as equality, family violence and climate change will actually be addressed by leaders who understand the real world.
The journey towards equality in the last few years has remained a political football. In particular, the debate over marriage equality has really put Australia very much behind the times. Religion is at the centre of this debate, however, the action taken recently by Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) has been ground breaking, in a religious context. EREA is the re-branding of the religious order formally known as the Christian Brothers. EREA governs over 50 Catholic schools in Australia, and many more globally. They are a powerful player in the Catholic education sector, and their advancements in equality should be commended. EREA recently released a position paper, which outlines their stance on providing a safe and inclusive environment in their schools, which now officially includes ‘same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people’. From my point of view, the ground-breaking component of this position paper is the linking of passages of scripture to this issue. Here, EREA are making it very clear that one can interpret the bible in a positive way, which is a fantastic step forward for the Catholic faith with regards to equality. Bigots will traditionally take carefully selected passages of scripture to justify their hate, and it is encouraging to see a religious order as large as EREA using the bible in the same way, but instead, for the greater good. Perhaps this action might encourage other religious orders or even the Catholic Church more broadly to change the way in which they interpret the bible. Perhaps, this might then force our government to stop stalling on the issue of marriage equality.
Turnbull’s ‘sensible centre’ sounds more like an androgynous zone, rather than a place on the spectrum of conservativeness. On one end of the conservative spectrum, Tony Abbott is jumping up and down, in some kind of ‘Oppositional Defiance Disorder’ boogie. For someone who claimed he wasn’t going to snipe, Tony sure seems to be trending on the snipe hashtag. On the other end of the spectrum is Malcolm. Malcolm, who was once considered to be so left, that he was in the wrong party, claims that he is now ‘Malcolm in the middle’. Perhaps, Turnbull is indeed in the middle, as he is someone who personally believes in marriage equality, but stands vehemently by the party line. I will say one good thing for Turnbull, and that is he has managed to get the conservatives to finally talk about climate change, and it seems things are starting to change in this arena. If Turnbull can take a stand and push for marriage equality, he will be long remembered for this, and will go down in history as one of our greatest leaders, for leading positive change.
'The Secret History' is the debut novel for Donna Tartt. Tartt has written just three novels, over approximately three decades. Her most recent novel, 'The Goldfinch' won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014, and was listed in the 100 Most Influential People, by Time Magazine in 2014.
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It all started in the summer of 2013. The movie Frozen had just come out and I took my then three-year old daughter to see it in the cinema. She instantly fell in love with it, and so did I. Fast forward to 2017, I now have three kids, and have seen pretty much every animated children’s movie made from Toy Story, through to Lego Batman. We, as a family, love watching these movies together. I find myself getting completely immersed in them. I learned how to play the opening piano riff for Frozen’s ‘Let it go’, and I have found myself listening to the Trolls soundtrack, by myself, in the car. Sure, it would make sense to have the Trolls soundtrack playing when the kids are also in the car, to entertain them, but I am equally happy to listen to it by myself, as the music is really just that good. Most recently, my eldest daughter and I went to see Beauty and the Beast at the cinema, and I am now loving the fact that I can watch these kinds of movies with her, that she is now getting older and needs more challenging films to watch. My four-year old son is now getting in to Star Wars, which is just super! Does this make me a ‘kidult’, or, are movies like Zootopia, Trolls, and Frozen just really good films in their own right? Last year I found myself having a conversation, with another adult mind you, about the merits of Zootopia, and it’s commentary on race and class. Maybe I’m reading too much in to it. As a further extension to this phenomenon, I also love building Lego with my four-year old son. He is obsessed with Lego and Star Wars, so, it makes sense that he now has a collection of Star Wars Lego – sometimes, I’m not sure who enjoys building the Lego more, me or him. Are we as adults, simply letting our inner child out through our own children, or are we just spending quality time with them. It’s hard to distinguish the two. All I know is that I can’t wait for the next kids film to watch, or the next Lego project to get stuck in to.
About the author
Observations and opinions of popular culture, covering everything from music, film, television, people and other things.