Dads' mental health podcast is 'mutual therapy'

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Image copyright The Mouth of Manliness
Image caption Brad Acton and Nick Hogben say they have had an "incredible" response from listeners

Two friends who started a podcast to help them work through mental health problems said it has become "mutual therapy" for them and their listeners.

Nick Hogben started the podcast with friend Brad Acton as an outlet to talk about his depression after being signed off from work.

The Mouth of Manliness has seen them discuss topics ranging from medication to Mr Acton's experience with his still born son.

The Essex pair said they wanted to help break the "destructive habit" of silence.

The podcast is now on its 19th episode, and has gained several hundred listeners.

Image copyright The Mouth of Manliness
Image caption The friends have now recorded 19 episodes together, and say it can be "intense"

The pair said they wanted to act after seeing statistics that showed suicide was the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK and, according to the Office for National Statistics, accounted for 15.5 deaths per 100,000 men in 2016.

"For ourselves it works because it is just us talking to each other and we get something out of it, and it would be nice if more people do hear it and it can help them," Mr Acton said.

Mr Hogben, who is 43 and works as a probation officer, described it as "mutual therapy".

"I have struggled with my mental health since I was nine and I have been up and down since then," he said.

"This time last year I had a particularly bad spell, I was signed off work for quite a while and had a lot of therapy.

"I talked about everything, was really open and it helped me."

Image copyright The Mouth of Manliness
Image caption The podcast is filmed and watched online via a US service

Mr Hogben, from Thurrock, said he was particularly keen to show the importance of men talking about their feelings after his experience growing up.

He said he had struggled with his relationships with his father and grandfather, who were both mechanics, while he had been inclined towards art and music, which was perceived as "effeminate".

"I think [male suicide] has always been a problem but it is perhaps getting worse with my generation.

"The generation before, which I saw in my dad, went through the war and they just got on with it, they didn't talk about it. They didn't deal with things."

Image copyright The Mouth of Manliness

They talk about their own experiences on the podcast, but have invited counsellors on as guests to provide expertise.

"It gets really intense at points but goes really quite the opposite at other points," said Mr Hogben.

"Sometimes we are laughing, laughing at ourselves, at each other, at some of the stupid things we have thought or done."

Mr Acton, who works in security, said he had spoken on the podcast about having a breakdown on a train, and also his experience with stillbirth.

"[Still birth and miscarriage] are things I have had personal experience of, and are something people don't generally talk about.

"We are privileged people are talking about these things more openly now but the battle is far from over."

'Worth it'

The pair said they had received messages from listeners, many of whom are women, thanking them for helping them and sometimes asking for advice or sharing their own stories.

"The response we have been getting is incredible," said Mr Acton.

"We have been getting people telling us 'I have not been able to talk to my wife about such and such' or 'I have been able to open up at work because of you'."

Image copyright Mouth of Manliness
Image caption The podcast has recorded an episode with DJ Eddy Temple-Morris

The podcasters have recorded an episode with DJ and music producer Eddy Temple-Morris who is an ambassador for mental health charity CALM.

"If we can help one person, then it is worth it," said Mr Acton.

"That's not a great business model for a podcast, but that is what this is all about."