Quality Bits

Movember Edition: Men's Mental Health with Shey Crompton

November 14, 2023 Season 2 Episode 6
Quality Bits
Movember Edition: Men's Mental Health with Shey Crompton
Show Notes Transcript

In the light of Movember (a movement that aims to raise awareness about men's health, including mental health and suicide prevention) and international men's day (did you know about that?), this is a special, vulnerable, and essential episode about men's mental health.

In this episode, Lina talks to Shey Crompton - a Senior Quality Manager at easyJet and the managing director of the St. Neots Man Cave in the UK - a men's mental health charity. Lina and Shey explore the concept of Movember, the societal expectations placed on men, and much more. Tune in to learn more about the importance of breaking down the stigma surrounding men's mental health, how to recognize when someone is struggling with their mental health and how to be a better ally.

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Lina Zubyte (00:05):
Hi everyone. Welcome to Quality Bits, a podcast about building high-quality products and teams. I'm your host, Lina Zubyte. It's November. Did you know that there is International Men's Day in November? Likely you do know Movember, right? Movember is about changing the face of men's health. It's a month when we are talking more about men's mental health, the gender that frequently is raised to suppress their emotions, be strong and not to cry because boys don't cry, right? I feel like it is not a helpful narrative to think that way, and it seeds so much of loneliness and suppressed emotions. So I could not stop myself from creating this episode to amplify the message of Vember and talk about men's mental health. I'm not a man, but I do know that I want to help out others. And I got someone who is a man to be my guest today, Shey Crompton. Together with Shey, we're talking about Movember, why it matters, as well as how to recognize when you're not feeling the best, what to do then and how to be a better ally. A trigger warning is that we are mentioning suicide multiple times in this episode. It is a powerful, sensitive, a must listen episode. Whatever your gender is. I really hope you enjoy it and share it with loved people in your life so we can understand each other better.

Hello, Shey. Welcome to Quality Bits. It's really nice to have you here. Could you shortly introduce yourself?

Shey Crompton (02:04):
Yeah. Hi, I'm Shey Crompton. I am senior quality engineering manager at EasyJet currently, as well as managing director of the St. Neots Man Cave in the UK, which is a men's mental health charity. And if you are watching this on video, you'll see I've got a little mustache. So I'm currently also doing Movember. I normally have a little bit of a goatee, so there we go.

Lina Zubyte (02:27):
Yeah, I was about to say happy Movember. Are you doing it? Because it's not that obvious if you're doing it or not.

Shey Crompton (02:34):
It's getting there. I used to do the other way around. I'd grow with my goatee. I'd allow the mustache bit to get really long, and then I'd have a big curly mustache. Then I'd make that shorter or restyle it each week and then go to clean shaven at the end. But I started doing it the traditional way, which is to start as clean shaven as possible. But yeah, it's all about being a conversation starter, so I'm happy to look silly for people to come over and just ask some questions.

Lina Zubyte (03:04):
So Movember has a motto to change the face of men's health. What is Movember? Why does it matter apart from just a fun, growing mustaches kind of month?

Shey Crompton (03:18):
So Movember essentially just a quick one is the idea of growing a mustache to represent the November and therefore to be a conversation starter about men's health. Movember itself represents three areas of men's health, and I hope I'm going to get them all right, to help men through things like prostate cancer, through suicide awareness and just general mental health. I mean, in a way it's to stop men dying before their time. So for me, the reason I do Movember is particularly around men's mental health, but also for suicide awareness. So yeah, that's a weird one. I can get quite emotional speaking about this, which is weird because I want people to speak to me about it and I find it difficult at times. There've been a number of people in my life who have died too young, and so that's why I raise money. So there we go.

That's shortening it quite a bit. But yeah, it is about suicide awareness and helping men to the charity works with other charities to prevent men dying too young. We all have our problems. There's the classic meme of a smiling person up the front with all the problems and things overshadowing them. And so we all have that. And men in particular have been underrepresented by mental health charities for many years. And as well as sort of the culture of men's mental health as well, not even men's mental health, the culture of men has been to sort of smile and get on with it. There is the saying, big boys don't cry and man up and things like that. So to have charities such as Movember, making people aware of men's mental health is of vital importance. And it's been getting better over the past few years. There are many other charities. I'm fortunate to be in a town where there are four major men's charities, mental health charities, but that's not the same everywhere else. So Movember is a worldwide movement and really works hard to improve men's mental health worldwide.

Lina Zubyte (05:47):
I really wanted to take November as a chance and reason to talk about this topic because I think that the way society conditions us has a lot to do it the way that we are conditioned by gender, that boys will be boys, boys don't cry, and everyone suffers from that. Same way that I was thinking that I would say that I was sort of a good girl, but then I thought that the more the term good girl is more for girls than boys, and the boys are naughty, the boys are assertive, dominant, they're not as labeled as good or as a girl, I have to obey or I have to be quiet or a good student, things like that. So there's so many of societal things, and the more I live, the more I realize how hard it is for a lot of men to speak about their feelings, especially when as women we are conditioned to speak about it, we're labeled as emotional. And for men, it could be the opposite thing. Even this thing that recently I was listening to this psychologist speaking that for men the way to bond very often is banter. And when they have friends, it's almost teasing and mocking each other rather than saying, oh, I feel something, and how can we deal with this? And it's more like aggression rather than crying, which is such a societal construct that's not really healthy for anyone.

Shey Crompton (07:17):
It is. And one of the other things I mentioned at the start is part of a thing called the St. Neots man cave, which is part of the Men's Shed Association. And one of the things that started was to combat the whole pub culture for men to work on their mental health. And one of my friends said it once is that women talk face-to-face men talk side by side. So you think about the bar culture is most men will stand at the bar looking not at each other, and then they'll talk about whatever problems they have. And the Men's Shed Association is a place for men to come and do things like woodworking or in my place's case woodworking and bicycle upcycling and various other bits and bobs where men are, their focus is on something and therefore they may open up and talk about stuff.

And so yeah, the tradition of women being able to speak to each other and just go, Hey, I'm feeling this way today, and men are expected to shut up and put up kind of thing and just carry on is absolutely, it's the way it's been ingrained in culture and in a society where also men have been the primary leaders within many of societies throughout the world. They've sort of set the tone as well. And now as equality is coming through, there is almost a sort of turnaround at times to sort of like, what have you got to moan at? You've got your white male privilege. And so there's that kind of aspect as well where if we are trying to come out and talk about our problems, we may feel a little bit reticent to do that because that kind of comment maybe gets thrown back at us. I'm fortunate not to have had that, but I have had people talk about the white male privilege in many things to an extent there is. But again, I stand up and I smile, but there's a whole heap of problems just right behind me that are running through my brain the whole time. And it is okay to not be okay.

Lina Zubyte (09:22):
There's a book, okay, not to be okay, it's full of essays actually about very interesting topics. So I've wrote down actually one of the criticisms of Movember, which I found quite interesting. So Deft university in 2015 said that "We find that across countries, Twitter users mostly focus on the social aspect of the Movember campaign with a relatively few tweets focusing on the health aspect of Movember. Additionally, those users that you mentioned health related issues often use genetic statements instead of focusing on the two specific health issues that MoMember aims to address, which is cancer and mental health. Surprisingly, the mental health aspect of Movember is virtually not discussed at all."So this sounds to me like the elephant in the room that we can say that generically like, oh, mental health is important, but talking about it, it's really hard and it's much harder to talk about it than to say, oh, get your screenings. And I guess it's also a normal observation and we cannot expect right now immediately the change to happen. Have you seen some good mental health conversations? How do people even start this to share some message about mental health and Movember and not look like, I dunno, even weak in this case, right? Because even as a man to share something... one thing is, oh, I'm growing a mustache. Another thing is get the cancer screening, but what you say about the mental health?

Shey Crompton (10:51):
Well, so the one thing I say about that when there is a criticism is it's easy to point at cancer and show it because a lump that shows up somewhere on a screening, there are indicators in your blood, et cetera. That's how easy it is. It's go get a screening because you'll look like this if you don't. Mental health is a disease, but it doesn't show. And that's the thing is. It took me most of my working life so far to realize that at times I suffered from mental health issues. That can be anything from depression to imposter syndrome to a combination of things. But I'm expected in my life as a leader in my companies that I've worked with to lead a group of people. And so to do that to show fallibility within the workspace is almost impossible. And so to your point, a lot of people are probably saying, Hey, it's easier to point at myself being funny than to, Hey, I'm doing this because...

I have problems. It was only about five years ago, six years ago when that was the first time when I had a manager who admitted they had mental health issues, they had a depression that came every now and then, and they would sign in and say, right, I'm off sick today. Because as Churchill called it, the black dog is here and they could be out for one day or two days or more because of mental health, because of mental health sickness. And that was a turning point for me to give me courage within my career, within my life to recognize that, hey, it's okay to say I'm not feeling it today. If you've got face streaming with cold and your eyes are blown up because you've got a migraine or something like that and you can barely breathe because of pneumonia or something like that, people go, bro, okay, you're dying.

Don't worry about it. Go and lie down, come back when you're ready. But to say, Hey, I can't even get out the front door today. I don't even know if I can, just even writing this email is very stressful for me, so I'm going to take time off sick. Well, what's wrong with you? You're not dying, are you? Well, no, I haven't got pneumonia, but you know what? If I can't function at full speed for my team, in my role in my company because I have something, my brain is not able to work properly today, I'm not serving you anyway, so just go, Hey, I understand. I get it. And there is a slow change that I see within the workplace, certainly in the UK, that a lot more leaders are understanding that mental health is an issue. And that's because the power of so many charities being prevalent is becoming kind of a combined voice, as it were.

So there's the UK Men's Shared Association, there's Movember, there's boys get sad too, mind talk about men's mental health quite often, I think the Men's Mental Health Day coming up on 19th of November. So there are many other things that are becoming a weight within our society where people go, okay, wow, people aren't okay sometimes that's all right. And so yeah, as I said to the people who say, oh yeah, you're just making a few tweets and having a laugh, great, do it. It doesn't matter if you're not saying I have a problem, or Hey, go and get screening. If you just say, I'm growing mustache for a Movember, well, somebody may click on the link and find out about what Movember is and then wow, they might be opened up to, wow, there's these mental health charities. Let's find out about it. Be, oh, I didn't realize that's also me. Oh gosh, I recognize me in that blog post. Change Your Life.

Lina Zubyte (14:55):
This reminds me also of Sophie Küster's talk. She was speaking about mental health and one slide especially hit me because it was put your oxygen mask first because if you don't, someone else has to take care of you. And first this, put your oxygen mask first. It did not hit me as much, but when the addition came that someone else has to take care of you, then it hit me that sometimes not taking care of ourselves, of our mental health, not being in tune with our needs and wants, we sort of put this responsibility on everyone else that you should guess or somehow. And it's also, it's heavy for us. And sometimes also it's sharing. We should share and tell what we're feeling, which is really hard. But this whole thing, taking care of yourself in order to go to work even, as you said, right, sometimes you may not feel the best and you should be somehow honest about this and say, Hey, today maybe I'm not feeling the best and I want to be representative. I want to help you out, but I'm not capable today. And admitting it is more and more, I think frequent. And I hope it is, it's really hard for me as well. Within a few years, I just started to say like, oh, what am I feeling? Because I would never ask that. I dunno, the way I was also brought up.

Shey Crompton (16:15):
So self-reflection is important, and in many European societies there's still that stigma across men and women that to be outspoken about your feelings is not the right way. You just get on and do it. I have a friend who's Albanian and I talk to him about my mental health and what the man cave is doing within my society here, and he's blown away. And then he goes back to Albania and he says, my uncle is in a room and his apartment looks so messy, but nobody can say, Hey bro, pull your socks up, because that's not how it's done there. He's expected to get on with his life, he lost his wife, he's a bit overweight and he's in a small town, he's probably not going to get a girlfriend. And so all of those things lead to this guy probably having very, very low mental health, but not even realizing it because it's not a thing within those societies. The classic German thing of the Germans being almost as stiff upper lip as the British and not being able to express themselves. I think more and more as worldwide charities come into those countries, it'll be like a drip that turns into trickle, that turns into a flood or something like that. So it's coming, but it takes the likes of these conversations to improve one person at a time.

Lina Zubyte (17:43):
That was actually one of my questions. Is it actually improving or do we just get an impression? So you would say yes, it is improving the awareness of mental health, of men's mental health.

Shey Crompton (17:54):
I would say yes. And the example I give to people when I answer a question like this is, so within the software testing industry, prior to the pandemic, I used to go to quite a number of conferences. And during that time the talks were all about say, software automation, test automation, testing, management, blah, blah, blah. And then there was one year I saw two talks about mental health within the workplace and mental health and leadership. And then the following year it was four or six and onward, and then pandemic happened. And now we've come through the other side and what we're seeing, what I personally am seeing more and more is it's almost ready to become a full track within some of these conferences about mental health in the workplace. And I know there are conferences about it and things like that, but within sort of regular, say like software testing conferences, developer conferences, leadership conferences, the mindset side of things, the mind health side of things, there's almost enough material there and people to start having its own track. And that is amazing. That has grown from the drip to the trickle to what is now a flood.

Lina Zubyte (19:07):
I actually really like that. I like that there are talks not only about some testing framework, and if there are keynotes, I would expect them to be more accessible and more somehow touching or the story that makes you think, it makes you reflect on things. If we think about mental health, how has your journey been with mental health? Would you be open to share? What have you learned? What have you changed in your life?

Shey Crompton (19:34):
Gosh, it's been a long journey. So I've been in the workplace for 25 years. I came from a family who from their culture was very sort of stoic and stiff upper lip kind of thing. Not necessarily British as you may hear from my accent, but of that ilk. So for many years I just kind of emulated my father, no matter what was going on at work, he just carried on, he went to work every day. He came back and he represented his family and never really cried, never really showed emotion. And for years, that's how I sort of saw myself and I emulated him. And then I went into industry and as a software tester and I was emulating the people around me, which was similar because it was computer games testing, it was a boys culture, man's culture. And so it was just a continuation of that.

And it wasn't until I heard the phrase imposter syndrome, probably about 10 or 12 years ago, maybe a bit more that I sort of went, what's that? Oh my gosh. I feel like that because I'm in a leadership position and when I look around, I'm just watching for somebody to go, no, you're wrong mate. Or, oh, what the hell are you trying to tell me to do that for? You have no credibility for me. And that's when I went, okay, so that's an interesting thing. I have imposter syndrome. What's going on in my mind with that? How do I deal with that? And so I learned a little bit more about dealing with my imposter syndrome and then I was able to speak to people about it and say, Hey, look, I feel a little bit weird at the moment because I'm telling you about this, but I'm not sure.

Okay. And so that was the first journey to recognizing my dealing with parts of my mental health. And then fast forward a few years, I had a bit of a bumpy road in my personal life and started doing counseling. And during that time I started to examine a little bit more around my mental health and around who I was, but not in the depth that maybe I could have done because at the same time, I'm, I'll admit I'm a little afraid of what I'll find in there if I dig too deep. I'm really afraid of what I'll find there. So I've gone into myself as far as I'm prepared to go right now. I'm 47, lots of life left, but I've also lived a big long life and I've got all of this stuff behind me. And so nowadays where I'm trying to deal with my mental health is by helping others as well, which will sort of rub off on me as it were.

So being part of the Men's Sheds Association and speaking with people there and seeing how they improve their mental health by just coming twice a week in my town to just do some woodwork and have a cup of tea. And God, it's amazing men whose sons have committed suicide and they come there and almost they're ready to cry at the drop of a hat. And now at least one of them is a leader within our cave and talks openly about the problems that surrounded him around his son's relationship with him, et cetera. Gosh. And it's partly because of the men's sheds association and walk and talk for men and various other UK nationwide charities that he has got to that point. So I see these people and they're inspirational. And so I'm learning more about myself by seeing other people improve and then sort of reflecting back into my head a little bit, and each time I do that, I'm hoping I go that little micrometer deeper, that little micrometer deeper to understand myself better. There's a long journey to go. There's a lot of work to go, but I know I'm on a journey, which is, I think the important thing is I'm on a journey of improvement and matter how long it'll take and how many steps it takes. At least I'm on the path.

Lina Zubyte (23:20):
It's so rewarding to learn from others and from communities and to be part of that. It makes me think of the book, the Body Keeps The Score. Have you read this book? Do you know it?

Shey Crompton (23:32):
No, I haven't. And again, this will come back to me sort of being a little bit afraid of examining what's below where I've gone already.

Lina Zubyte (23:42):
It's quite an intense book. It's about trauma. But your example actually reminded me of one example that the author gave there working with (Vietnam war) veterans. So that is the example he gives at the start. And he said that the black dog creeps on you. And then some of those veterans would get really stuck even in visual kind of memories of their friends, for example, dying on the field, that's extreme grief. And the psychologist said that the only thing to get out of this sometimes would be physically drag them out from there, because otherwise people don't really like they are stuck in their head. And what they did is exactly this. They would go camping. Sometimes these people felt completely miserable, but just working on something, spending some time together could help them make a little bit of new memories to make this grief look a little bit smaller. So the communities are very, very important.

Shey Crompton (24:41):
So much so. There's a fantastic charity that I've just mentioned, and it's called Walk and Talk for Men. And again, that deals with men come along and they can just come for a walk. They don't have to mention anything. You can talk if you want or you can just go for a walk. The whole thing is a group of men going for a walk and they all have whatever they've gone through. And so many people have been drawn out of possibly just locking their front door and never coming out again by somebody just saying, just come on this. Come for 10 minutes. And that change is amazing. And that's what I do with the man cave is we open the door, we advertise around the town, but we dunno who's coming on a day-to-day basis. But we've had people in who've come in and to take you all thing from the Vietnam War, we've got people who've come in from the British Army and say, Hey, look, I've got PTSD. If I walk out, just leave me to it because I'm dealing with that. But I'll come back. And then we've got other people who are like, I lost my wife over lockdown. I've been a widower and all I've done for the last year has practically sat in my house. I haven't once lockdown finished, I had nothing else to do. And now here I am. And it's that kind of step-by-step change that we can all help no matter who you are. Men, women, whoever, just ask, are you okay?

Lina Zubyte (26:12):
And maybe just some activity, right? Go get a coffee.

Shey Crompton (26:17):
Yeah. And it is that you say, Hey, I'm here. I'm going to go for a walk, be there, don't be there, that's fine. But if you're there, all we do is go for a walk. That's step number one.

Lina Zubyte (26:31):
I really like that. I think that can really connect people. I have a really soft spot for connecting people. And I think growing together, learning from each other and supporting each other because we need communities. And sometimes it also takes lots of courage to say, Hey, I need help. So talking about this, how can people recognize their feelings better? How can they recognize when they're having a low? Have you had the moment where you were like, okay, this is not a greatest moment. How did you get out of that?

Shey Crompton (27:03):
Yeah, that's the hard one. I think unless you've had a bit of self-reflection, you may not understand where you are. And so continue on. And unless somebody points it out to you, you may not recognize it. And for me, I know where I am with mental health particularly because there are some days where in my head I'm going, you are absolutely useless. You are worthless, you're an idiot. Or you just can't do anything, right? And my mind works that way. And I know that within the communities that I work within, both at work and my private life, if I said that to people, I'd be like, oh my God, what the hell? Of course you're doing fine. Geez, man, a hundred percent, you're going great. But my mind is still saying, whatever, dude, you're still useless. And it's recognizing that and going, okay, so what change can I make to make me feel different?

And it might be going for a walk around the block, it might be just making something nice, doing some cooking. It might be sort of just ringing a mate and just going, Hey, I'm just going to come and say hi or something like that. But to recognize that is so valuable and difficult, and if you find yourself in a situation that you feel for multiple hours or even multiple days on end, that you're just spiraling in on yourself, not wanting to get out when normally you're quite a social person or things like that. So those trends that are outside of your normal way of being, I think that's where you maybe have to examine, okay, am I feeling different or what's going on with me? And for me, it takes quite a while to recognize that sometimes a day or two will go past and I'll go, oh, hang on, what?

Oh, I've been in a pretty bad place for a couple of days. I haven't really realized that. And then I sort of go, okay, so what do I need to change? What do I need to do? Maybe I need to, I dunno, there'll be things that I'll be avoiding or hiding from. And it's like, okay, try and push yourself forwards or just take one step outside the door today or something like that. And that's sort of how I think it goes. Certainly for me. And some people with depression, they just find it difficult to get out of bed even. And I know people who, as I said at the start, committed suicide because they just couldn't find a way out of that spiraling circle. And outwardly, they were fine. Really outwardly, when I think back to some of the people I've spoken to, literally, I mean one guy, on the day of his unfortunate suicide, he gave me a lift to the train station and everything seemed fine.

It was great. Hey, I'll see you in a couple of weeks for beers, mate. Yeah, yeah, no worries. And then that was it. But in his mind, he was so deep down that he didn't see the way to ask for help because he couldn't see that any ladder or rope or anything could go far enough down that hole to pull him out again. So yeah, it's kind of a bit of self-reflection, and maybe we should all just try and do that on our good day. Say, Hey, today's a good day. What have I done? That's good. And then maybe you'll recognize what good looks like and then good's a scale or something like that.

Lina Zubyte (30:36):
It's really unfortunate that currently the suicide rates are much higher actually, when it comes to men. And I do think, my hypothesis is that it is suppressing the emotions and the way we condition men to grow up in the society where you are supposed to be dominant. You're supposed to be the stoic kind, as you said. My father doesn't speak about emotions, even the good ones, and that's really sad, but I've never heard him say anything nice. He could comment on, for example, he would say, what kind of sweater is that? Is that the fashion nowadays? But that's his kind of love. So he doesn't really say, how does he feel once I put him to such an interesting position, because I have these seek discomfort cards that have very deep questions. My parents were visiting and I was like, we are waiting for something.

Let's play this game. And there were these deep questions and he struggled to transfer them. So not used to that. It's really hard to speak about it when all your life, you haven't spoken about it when you're supposed to be the man, when you're even coping, mechanisms are different, right? Go get a drink or something or not talk about this or mock things or be rather aggressive or this suppression of feelings. And I think this results in this extreme kind of loneliness and sadness. And I think that, as you said as well, this example of the uncle in Albania, that they may end up as really sad men who may do something as well then to get some attention. I dunno, in the US, there's also white supremacists that sometimes even walk with guns, and they're not soldiers, they're just very lonely people. And in our society, we grow the system, which doesn't help anyone. But how can we help these people? I'm wondering, is there a way that we could be better allies or help people talk about it? The situation is improving. It'll take time though. Is there something that we could do to check in with people who may seem great from the outside?

Shey Crompton (32:44):
That's such a great question and I love it. And one thing perhaps is to help them develop vocabulary. So in the example with your father, with these cards, with asking deep questions, I'm not even sure I could answer them and I'm on my journey or I'd be prepared to answer them. So one of the things I found it difficult with my counselor was when they did ask those kind of deep searching questions, I either... I hid behind comedy, I hid behind bluster, I didn't answer deep enough. And there are a couple of reasons around that. I was scared of looking for the answer, but also as I said to her one day, I don't even have the vocabulary. I cannot tell you, I cannot express the way I feel because I don't have the vocabulary. And you think, oh, well, I'm feeling sad or I'm feeling lonely, or I'm feeling the, but in your head, the feeling you have and all of these words, you don't think they may be adequate enough.

So one of the things I suggest to people is if you want someone to examine their emotional intelligence and develop that a little bit, try softer questions. And I don't have great answers, but maybe saying something like, what is something you really love doing? Or what is it something you really love eating? Using those words I love? Or what sort of thing do you get excited by? And some people, men may go, oh, I get excited when my team scores a goal. Great. So you're using those words, you are associating words with emotions and situations, and so that perhaps will develop that vocabulary, that situational empathy, et cetera. And also, if you are trying to help someone develop that emotional intelligence and that vocabulary, it's the softly way to chip away at that sort of strong front in a way that won't produce that shock effect.

Or in a way, it's like the example of the frog in the water. On the heat, if you chuck it into boiling water, it'll jump straight out. But if you increase it one by one by one degree, bit by bit by bit, it won't even recognize that it's about to hit to, it'll stay in for longer and eventually die or whatever the experiment is. But it's that kind of thing of if you say to me something deep about what is your deepest fear, your darkest fear or something like that, I'll climb up, I'll go, I don't know. Or I'm afraid to look and give you the answer because my imposter syndrome says to me, if you give Lina the answer, then they'll laugh at you. Or they'll go, really? That's the deepest thing, whatever. Or, oh my God, you're such a freak. I'm calling the police now. What the hell? Or something like that. There's all of that fear around. But if you're saying what is something on a daily basis that makes you catch yourself and you think, Hmm, I'm not sure, or something like that, that's a softer question that might work.

Lina Zubyte (35:54):
I think that's a very nice way to phrase it, because we all are different, and especially as women, we may be more in tune with emotions or be labeled as emotional. We may manage to answer the deep question, but if I manage to answer the deep question, doesn't matter that everyone can. And I shouldn't expect everyone answer that question and immediately. So sometimes it takes time to help people open up, it takes more trust, it takes more effort as well, and we shouldn't overwhelm them wherever they are in their journey. I guess the little things that we could do is do something together, do some activities, ask some little questions as well, see how they react wherever they are in their journey. And then maybe we can build better communities and support each other.

Shey Crompton (36:41):
And listen, this is the other one. A lot of people will ask a question and have the answer in their head, and that's fine. But if you're trying to help somebody, listen, shut the hell up. Look at them, not at your phone, not at your watch, not over their shoulder, not away. Look at them and listen.

Lina Zubyte (37:04):
They say this is the biggest currency nowadays to just listen, to be in the presence of a person without their phone, without some distraction. And it's really intense and people cannot stand it anymore because it's like what? And to feel fully present with someone, that's such a gift.

Shey Crompton (37:21):
And a lot of people don't realize how powerful it is. I think as well nowadays, and it's something I do and as a leader, when I'm speaking with people on my team, the people I'm managing, I have responsibility for some people's careers. So if they're telling me something about their career and I've asked them, well, I should want to hear their answer. If I've asked the damn question, expect the damn answer. So it is like, I'll take my phone and at the beginning of the session and I'll either put it in my bag or I'll turn it over or whatever, and it'll be out of the way. It won't even be in my eyesight. And that's it. Okay. And then it's learning the posture and for people who want to help others learn to listen.

Lina Zubyte (38:06):
It's a difficult thing to learn. I think. Yeah. So when it comes to resources, organizations or even people to follow, you did mention quite a few, but if we had to summarize and suggest something for people to check out when they want to learn more about Men's mental health, what would you recommend?

Shey Crompton (38:27):
Well, since it's November and topical, go to Movember.com because there are blogs and resources there. The charity Mind is certainly in the uk. I'm not sure if they're worldwide, but definitely there will be resources there for mental health in general. But Men's Mental health as well, the Men's Shed Association is a worldwide movement for men's mental health. There are sheds all over the world where people can go and just hang out. It was started in Australia, so that's the kind of thing. It's like Australians are really, really bad at talking to each other, and it's such a men's society there. And so to have people go, right, I want to develop a charity that helps men talk to each other better. It's got to be good. And it's worldwide. I think check out your local charities as well. There's nothing more powerful than trying to find a mental health movement or charity or get together within your own society that can help you to move forwards or do what I did.

And that's start one up. Start up a men's shed in your area and a woman's shed. Women have started their own areas because what that does is will challenge you to try and reflect on mental health, because for me, as a manager within a mental health space, oh my God, I have to listen to these people. I have to have their care in mind. And then I will observe by listening, by being with them, I will observe and that'll help me improve my mental health. Other ones within the UK, there's Walk and Talk for men, Andy's Man Club, and for men to talk. And they're all very distinctly different. And so those can be looked up. I dunno which ones are national or regional, but they're definitely worth looking up. And then say, within the software industry, look up past talks that have been given about mental health.

I mean, you mentioned Sophie. Oh my god, Sophie's talk blew me away. So yeah, I think that's it. There's so much out there. And don't be afraid to just sit at your desk and if you don't want Google to see, or whomever to see that you're searching for men's mental health stuff using incognito mode and then search out men's mental health in my area or something like that. And then you are kind of doing it in a safe space. And then seek out a counselor, ask for recommendations and find a counselor. It's okay. The Americans talk about therapists. It's okay to be doing therapy, and it's powerful to be able to say, I'm doing something about my mental health.

Lina Zubyte (41:09):
Such great recommendations. We are going definitely to add it to the notes, so I think we will find the Sophie's talk as well recorded one so you can check it out. I really liked it as well. Such to wrap up this conversation and the topics we've touched on here, what is the one piece of advice you would give for building high quality products and teams?

Shey Crompton (41:31):
Building high quality and teams, it's communication. That's the number one thing. You cannot improve quality without communicating at the earliest point within any project and within the most relevant people in the team. So find out who they are, have the conversations, and certainly with a quality mindset, ask the questions that will improve the quality from as early as possible.

Lina Zubyte (42:02):
Thank you so much, Shey. Really enjoyed the conversation. Very powerful message. So happy Movember.

Shey Crompton (42:09):
Thank you so much, Lina. It was such a good chance to talk to you. So thank you so much.

Lina Zubyte (42:13):
That's it for today's episode. Thank you so much for listening. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot and it touched me. For the end, I would like to include a quote from Gina Martin's book "No offense, but": "Masculinity can be all types of things. Sensitive, strong, empathetic, comforting, safe, patient. Think of different men in your life, and you'll easily notice how one man's masculinity is different to another others. Your dad might be more stoic and an emotional, traditionally masculine, while your partner for whom the traditional kind of display and expectation of manhood is uncomfortable. Presents as more sensitive. People are individual and so is their gender and gender expression. It's just that we're rarely encouraged to think about masculinity and its pluralities." So masculinity can be all kinds of ways. Let's be kinder to each other. Let's take walks and have some talks. Until the next time, do not forget to continue caring about and building those high quality products and teams. Bye.