This week’s episode I speak my guest Charles Catchings. Charles and I talk about men and mental health, how important self-care is to men, cultural and social identity, we talk about vulnerability, and how a bunch of guys with problems is helping a bunch of guys with problems.
The Barber Shop Group is an umbrella organization that advocates for all men’s wellness while creating space for targeted groups to have serious discussions without fear of reprisal and shame. In today’s climate, many people shake their sticks at such an approach but my professional and personal experience has shown me the most effective way for our organization to advocate for men’s mental health. Currently, we have three media ventures: our podcast, a live weekly radio show allowing listeners to interact with a trained therapist, and an upcoming webtv talkshow. We host men’s retreats around the country allowing men to engage in group discussions of wellbeing and gain access to one-on-one counseling and mentoring, all while doing “guy” stuff.
Charles Catchings has been involved in mental health-care in a variety of capacities since 2003. I first started working in a boys’ group-home setting providing direct care and mentoring. I quickly found myself swept up into a world where men were sorely needed but absent. This was even truer of African-American men as many of the residents were either African-American or came from inner-cities nearby. Early in that experience, I learned a bit about my ability to connect and relate to the clients, in part due to my own background and my desire to be an open vessel for people in need. Though I maintained several jobs during that time, I realized I was to work in the capacity of mental health and healing. Later, I transitioned to working with juvenile sex offenders. This was one of the more challenging positions, requiring me to work through some of my own sexual trauma while trying to understand and guide young men who were often the victims of sexual violence or sexual avoidance unbeknownst to the public.
I was commended for my work with this group and was asked to join a team of clinicians working with deaf and hard-of-hearing clients with co-occurring disorders. I was challenged to provide the same level of care while learning an entirely new language -American Sign Language- to convey messages of healing and hope. Lastly, I was given the opportunity to work with male and female AOD clients and this is my current focus.
Takeaways from this episode:
It’s ok to be vulnerable.
It’s ok to focus on mental health.
Self caress just as important for men.
Where you can find The Barber Shop Group: