David C:Yes, so going into that, what kind of pressures do you think men are under and how do you think this is affecting men’s mental health?
Mina G:I still think about it now, if you open any magazine, even if you still Google ‘men on billboards’, it’s still, every single image that we see of men out there in mainstream media is a very muscular, chiselled man. We don’t see the very real things that all of us have like stretch marks or bellies or love handles. These are all things that we have, but we don’t see them reflected in mainstream media. So, I think that that sends, again, this really harmful message that in order for you to love yourself, in order for you to find value in your body, that’s how you should look.
David C:Now Stevie, you’re a rugby player and, obviously, you have certain pressures as playing in a sport. How has this affected your mental health, being a rugby player, and what are the specific sort of pressures men like you face in the sport?
Stevie W:Yes, sure. I think, being a sportsman, it’s pressures from lots of different areas. Obviously, there’s the physical pressure to be in that kind of fitness zone and what ticks the boxes to perform out there on the field each week, week in, week out. But also, there’s the mental performance side of things as well, which I think is only starting to be tailored for, or people to really start to zone in and look at it. There was a time when I was out with a 12-month injury and this is where I started looking into it, because I’ve had various long-term injuries and I realised that I’d not done much work into managing the pressures. And you ask about specific pressures, one week, you could be at an absolute peak, you could have won a game, you could have scored the winning try in a game. But the next week, something might have gone wrong in the week or you might have got injured the week after, so it’s peaks and troughs and it’s a constant rollercoaster. It’s almost a condensed rollercoaster. I’ve had real, real opposite end of the spectrum kinds of experiences, so what I’ve looked at is, mental health, just as people would look at physical health. For me, we’re not going to stop the pressures, we’re not going to stop those sorts of challenges that we have, mentally, just like we have physically, but we can look for different perspectives, we can look at different practices. We can look at different ways to actually deal with it.
David C:So, you’ve said you had real opposite ends of the spectrum experiences, I know you’ve had a really bad experience with injury, can you tell me about that?
Stevie W:I’ve had quite a few. When I was 19 years old, 2014, I dislocated my shoulder and damaged all the nerves down left arm, that put me out for nine months and I struggled with that, I really struggled with that. So, 2017 came round and it was another shot to get into this final, this specific grand final, and the week before, I dislocated my shoulder, I had to come off the field and go to A&E and sit on an A&E bed for … I sat in A&E for a good five hours, trying to get my shoulder back in. They couldn’t get it back in because of the previous operations and I had to sit up all night and wait to go to theatre the next morning at 9:00am. And this puts me, a week before the final, and my shoulder has only just got put back in, and I remember, just before I went down into theatre, before I got put to sleep, there was a male nurse there and I was, obviously, devastated. The emotional pain that I went through that night and the physical pain was almost like it had got to another level. I said to the male nurse, “What do you reckon about next week?” and he says, “Well, get your shoulder put back in, see what damage there is, and you never know.” And then it was, like, lights out, boom. I was back, awake, after I’d had my shoulder put back in, still in a lot of pain with it, and I struggled a little bit with the fact that I wouldn’t be playing, but almost went into a bit of a period where I could kind of see things really clearly and have a bit of perspective.
David C:With your injury, this is where you started to very much focus on how it was impacting your mental health.