The Mendl label was founded on the importance of conversations. Giving men both the permission, and the environment, to engage in important conversations about their mental health has never been more important.
In our most recent Mendl Movement Journal #3, our Co-Founders Mitch Hannan and Mark Losewitz sit down to discuss why conversations are so critical for them as a tool to regulate and manage their own mental health; and how Mendl was borne through an important series of conversations that happened a few years ago.
For Mitch, conversations have been an important method utilised to calm a busy and unsettled mind. At the other end, Mark was sometimes grappling with the most supportive way to listen and respond, in order to help a close mate through what was a tough period. On a cold winter’s day in the Carlton Gardens, our co-founders touch on the important of not only talking, but listening too.
“I hadn't felt like that before, and I was looking for everyone at the time to pick me up, and pull me back together”
M.L - "Mendl was born out of anxiety you experienced a few years ago, I know it was a pretty tough time."
M.H- "I probably note it down as the hardest experience I've gone through in my life. I look back at it now as about a three month period, where my mind was in turmoil essentially. I knew what I was feeling, but I didn't know how to grapple with it, tackle it, understand it or know what to do. It was by far the hardest experience of my life."
“The most important thing that I could do as a mate was simply to be a presence”
M.H- "For me, I was grappling with some pretty severe anxiety at the time, and it wasn’t one particular trigger - it wasn’t football alone, nor any one thing in my personal life - it was probably a combination of these things all happening at once.
I had some relationships break down, both family and personal and I had some football worries. So for me, the physical effects were a lack of sleep, a lack of diet, and a racing mind that you struggle to grapple with. I wanted to voice to you what was going on, I wasn’t necessarily looking for your advice, more I just wanted some sympathy or empathy to help me get through that moment."
“I guess what I was looking for in you was one - for you to understand what was going on, and two - to hold me accountable and make sure I was doing ok”
M.L - "As a mate, you want to be there for them as much as you can, and its really easy to want to solve it. One of the hardest things is that a lot of things in life are solveable - and especially with those close to you, you want to do what you can to get it done, get it out the back door and move on. What you don’t understand is that with mental health it is not necessarily about just fixing it in the moment.
I don’t think that there was anything in my position that I could have done to just solve it then and there, because it is completely complex in the way that it has come about."
M.H- "Mates may be confronted by these circumstances in the future where someone close to them reaches out to talk about their mental health. It is important to understand that you're not a professional in this space, it's more about showing that level of empathy and care. It‘s important to show them that you will always be there for them, whether it be catching up more regularly, checking in with a call to see how they are going, or simply being an ear for them to talk to."
M.L- "Each situation feels really unique in the way that it goes about, and I don’t think you can ever be really prepared for that chat as a mate, because perhaps you don’t see it coming or it takes you back a little bit. Unless you are really in it yourself, it is sometimes difficult to hear it and also grapple with the magnitude of it."
M.H- "For me, I was in a terrible mindset. I was looking for answers for a lot of things. I wanted you to firstly understand that I was going through something, because I wasn’t replying to texts and i’d miss a few of your calls. What a lot of people do in that scenario is draw away from society a bit. So first and foremost, I just wanted you to know that me not replying or being different was because of a certain reason."
“It's ok to be a guy in your 20's, and just send a text to a mate to check in on their well-being, to give them the opportunity to open up if they need”
M.H- "It's important to note how powerful the idea of conversation can be. If you just show that level of care as a listener, and simply be a presence for those important conversations - for that person it will be doing more than you probably think it will be doing. It will help them get out of their own mind and gather their thoughts and feelings, and help them verbalise what they are going through."