Some people may be wondering why men’s voices need to be heard when there’s still such a long way to go in terms of equality between men and women. Unfortunately, the facts show that men’s mental health is in crisis and men in the North East are three times more likely to take their own lives than women.
Men often suffer in silence so through as a series of participatory art workshops we gave groups of men and boys in the North East the opportunity to open up and share their thoughts on what it means to be a man today. We also discussed the positive and negative stereotypes that surrounded their understanding of masculinity.
You can discover more through our Men’s Voices: Stepping Out of the box exhibition that’s running The Witham from 9th-23rd February and will then go onto Durham heritage venues Locomotion and Killhope Lead Mining Museum in May.
Luckily there’s a growing movement to transform the negative associations of male culture and redefine masculinity with celebrities such as Robert Webb – who grew up thinking that men should get a grip and act like a man – urging men to open up their emotions and talk.
We could write on the subject for pages and pages so we’re really excited to say that we’ve commissioned a Panel Talk at The Witham on Sat 16th Feb with 3 expert mental health speakers where we’ll be discussing ‘How gender norms impact mental health?’ Tickets are just £5. Armed with all the knowledge you’ve just soaked up you can then take part in our Creative Writing Workshop with GongFuPoets founder Tony Gadd, where you can expand on the subject further and put pen to paper for yourself.
Ultimately, we want to empower all genders to question destructive cultural pressures and seek healthier alternatives. We’re currently working with men, boys, women, girls and LGBT groups to extend the body of artwork contained in our original exhibition to pose questions around gender norms more broadly. At this stage our exhibition will become Stepping Out of the Box and will showcase at brand new cultural venue, The Art Bunker in Bishop Auckland in September.
If you or anyone you know needs support then local group – ManHealth CIC – is a not for profit peer support group run by men with personal experience of depression funded by the National Lottery. The groups are free and open to men affected by depression to share friendship and support over a common condition. https://www.facebook.com/ManHealthCIC/