The Mindful Midlife Crisis

Episode 66--"No More Men Talking Mental Health on Podcasts": An Open Letter to Chelsea Fagan of The Financial Diet

October 05, 2022 Billy & Brian Season 6
The Mindful Midlife Crisis
Episode 66--"No More Men Talking Mental Health on Podcasts": An Open Letter to Chelsea Fagan of The Financial Diet
Show Notes Transcript

In this week's episode, Billy discusses how an Instagram post from The Financial Diet's Chelsea Fagan perpetuates the stigma and shame many men feel when talking about their mental health. 

Billy discusses:
--Getting rid of the toxic hustle culture BS
--How middle-aged men are three times more likely to die by suicide than middle-aged women.
--There’s a need for more men to talk about mental health to stop the stigma.
--When you’re on a social media platform with a huge following, you need to be more responsible about your messaging.
--How important it is to choose your words wisely.

If you enjoyed this episode, you may also enjoy: 

--Episode 3: The Only Way Out Is Through: Billy Overcomes His Demons Through Mindfulness
--Episode 11:  Two Brother Share How Talking about Depression Has Improved Their Relationship
--
Episode 22:  Normalizing and Prioritizing Mental Health Conversations with Our Children with Tandra Rutledge
--
The Jordan Harbinger Show, Episode 682: Deep Dive | Hustle Culture

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Billy: Welcome to Season 6 of The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm your host, Billy Lahr. For those of you who are regular listeners to the show, you know that my good friend, Brian on the Bass, has stepped away so he can focus on his new band Gen X Jukebox. Hey, if you miss Brian, as much as I do, give Gen X Jukebox a follow on Instagram and Facebook. Slide into his DMs and tell him how much you miss his stories and his word of the day. I'm sure he'll appreciate hearing from you. But, as they say, the show must go on. I'm excited to continue bringing you more conversations with fascinating people who have expertise and life experiences that will help you navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. Now, just to be clear, you don't have to wait until your 30s, 40s, or 50s to apply this free and useful information. Okay? This information is universally golden and will help people of all ages reflect, learn, and grow.

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I am so excited for this season, and I cannot wait to share the conversations I've been having so far with you. This season, we'll feature Dr. Shree Walker, who will talk about how to build resilience, especially after going through a traumatic life experience. We'll also talk to a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Expert Witness, Dr. Lena Haji, about using acts of service as an act of self-love. We'll follow up those two episodes with a heartfelt conversation from Jason Clawson, who lost his wife to cancer but found a way to heal and find love again. Then we'll meet Brooke Malik, a Minnesota-native who I randomly met in Seoul while she was there reuniting with her birth family for the first time. Make sure you have your Kleenex box ready during those two conversations. Because I assure you, your allergies are going to act up. Towards the end of the season, we'll talk to Anna Skender, who will share how she and her ex-husband beautifully co-parent despite being in relationships with other people. After that, we'll talk to Licensed Sex Therapist, Kathy Saputo, to discuss sexual wellness and misconceptions about sex as we age. I'm also going to do a few episodes with my coaching partner, Jill Dahler, where we break down some of the skills and strategies we're covering in our new Reflect. Learn. Grow. program. If you're interested in learning more about our Reflect. Learn. Grow. program, click on the link in our show notes, or you can schedule an intro call using the Calendly link that's also found in the show notes. Season 6 is going to start off with men talking mental health. Next week, you'll hear from Purdeep Sangha of The Complete Man Podcast, followed by retired Navy SEAL Commander Jon Macaskill of the Men Talking Mindfulness Podcast. Then we'll hear from Eric Romanak of the Therapist and a Trainer Podcast.

The reason we're going to start there is because of this Instagram post I saw recently from an account that I actually follow and enjoy. But this post really rubbed me the wrong way. I want to be sure I address the content and the messaging in that post in today's episode. So, let's do this. We're going to take a quick break. Be sure to listen to the short breathing meditation during the segment break. When we come back, we're going to discuss how this Instagram post perpetuates the stigma and shame many men feel when it comes to talking about their mental health. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.

(break)

Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We're starting off Season 6 by addressing this Instagram post that I saw recently, that I feel perpetuates the stigma and shame many men feel when it comes to talking about their mental health. So, the post in question came from Chelsea Fagan, who is the co-founder of The Financial Diet, which is a YouTube and Instagram page that talks about finances. To be honest, it does a really good job of breaking down spending habits and financial strategies, particularly for millennials.

Now, I've been a fan of this account for quite some time, because I believe they produce high-quality content. But recently, she posted a reaction video to some man. I don't know who it was, but he was on a podcast and he was talking about mental health. Like I said, I don't know who this dude is. Maybe he's notorious for putting bad information out there. I don't really know because she didn't indicate who this person was, so I wasn't able to research his content. It didn't have a lot of context around why she made this post. But I do know that the point of it was to clap back at Hustle Bros, which I, too, cannot stand. In fact, I'm going to link the Jordan Harbinger episode he did on the toxicity of hustle culture. Because he does a great job of explaining why you should completely disregard anything these Hustle Bros have to say.

Here's an example. One time I saw a couple of bros who host a podcast post something on their Instagram saying, "We don't take weekends off, because that's 104 days where you can get ahead of your competition." My thought was, well, right. If I didn't sleep, that's 192 hours a week when I could get ahead of my competition. Get the fuck out of here with that toxic hustle bro bullshit. That is toxic hustle bro culture to remove from your feed, which I did. I do not follow those bros anymore because of stupid shit like that.

But in this video that Chelsea posted, this guy wasn't saying anything that came off to me like it was hustle culture. He may have been a bit overzealous about how much and how often he reads. But he was also giving common advice, like get eight hours of sleep a day — which, I would argue, is not advice most Hustle Bros give. But her response to that was, "Oh, get eight hours of sleep. Real original." Now, we'll get back to that comment in a little bit. But the comment that I really want to address here was when she said 'no more men talking mental health on podcasts.'

Now, let's be frank here. I'm a dude with a podcast who talks to experts — both male and female — about mental health amongst other topics. So, yeah, this may have hit a little closer to home for me. But I'm trying to better understand why she would make a comment like that. So, I'm coming at this from a curious point of view. So, Brian and I have done episodes like episode two where we took a look at data from the Samaritan's project, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the CDC, that show middle-aged men are the most at risk for death by suicide. In fact, middle-aged men are three times more likely to die by suicide than middle-aged women. But I don't feel that's something that's talked about very often.

In Episode 3, I discussed my own mental health struggles and how I cultivated a mindfulness practice, that not only changed my life but most likely saved it as well. In Episode 5, Brian on the Bass talked about his struggles with alcohol and pill addiction. These conversations that the two of us had resulted in numerous messages from friends of ours who said things like, "Hey, man. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I didn't realize that you ever went through anything like that, and it makes me want to address my own mental health issues." We even got a message from a guy who said that sharing my story opened up a dialogue between him and his brother. So, we invited them to come on the show to share that story. That's Episode 11, if you want to go and check that out.

Now, there are a lot of factors that play into why middle-aged men are the most at risk for suicide. But I believe one of those factors is the stigma many men feel around being vulnerable enough to discuss their own mental health. So, I find it troubling and tone deaf that Chelsea would make a comment like 'no more men talking mental health on podcasts.' What I'm trying to understand is whether or not she meant this particular man. Again, I don't know who he is. Maybe he shouldn't be talking about mental health or if she's saying men, in general, shouldn't be talking about mental health.

Now, as I mentioned before, I understand that much of the information this person that she has in this post is sharing, such as needing eight hours of sleep, that's not super original advice. But it is sound advice. Given the fact that 35% of Americans report not getting the recommended amount of sleep and the overall health impacts that that has, there's nothing wrong with sharing that advice. In fact, we want to bring on a sleep expert to talk about this because we feel like it's important. We haven't talked about it yet on our show. Sometimes you just need to hear things over and over and over again before it sinks in, and you make a change for the better.

Now, one of the reasons I enjoy The Financial Diet YouTube and Instagram accounts so much is because they provide sound financial advice. But my question to Chelsea is, how much of that advice is original? Couldn't we find much of the financial advice that's shared on The Financial Diet on multiple platforms? I'm pretty certain that we could, but that doesn't make that information any less valuable. In fact, because it's so ubiquitous, it actually shows its longevity of effectiveness. Not only that. But as I mentioned before, their target market appears to be Millennials. Despite the bad rap Millennials get — from Gen Xers like me and those grumpy Boomers — they're faced with more economic issues than any other generation, which is something that we're going to talk about in Season 7. But would we say, no more millennials giving financial advice on podcast? We shouldn't say things like that. Nor despite only 26% of finance professionals being women, should we say things like 'no more women giving financial advice on podcasts?' In fact, I think Chelsea in The Financial Diet's voice needs to be amplified, so more millennials and more women are having conversations around finances because there's a need for it. I firmly believe there is a need for more men to talk about mental health so we can kick stigma's butt, as our past guest and self-described boss babe Tanja Rutledge of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention said in Episode 22 about normalizing and prioritizing mental health conversations.

So, like I said, I'm trying to be curious around why she would make a comment like no more men talking mental health on podcasts. Because middle-aged men and men over 75 are dying by suicide at disproportionate numbers compared to other age demographics. I feel like her comment perpetuates the stigma men often feel around discussing mental health. I was also shocked to see just how many people in the comments section supported this 'no more men talking mental health on podcasts' statement. I find it troubling because — listen, have men, particularly white dudes like me, been holding core for far too long? Yes, we have. Okay. We have. Am I just another average white dude hosting a podcast? Yes. Yes, I am. I acknowledge that. Do we need more diverse voices amplified, so we can create more awareness and empathy of diverse life experiences? Yes, and that's honestly why I created this podcast.

But given the suicide rates for middle-aged men — especially middle-aged white men — which is something we just don't talk about, those rates are just barely behind middle-aged Native American men. We have the highest rates of death by suicide per 100,000. I think it's important that we acknowledge the need for these conversations to happen, so that we can provide safe spaces for men to open up about their mental health struggles. In fact, I want to recognize Lorenzo Lewis who founded The Confess Project of America, which is a mental health awareness movement of over 1,700 barbers and stylists trained in 47 cities and 26 states to become mental health advocates. This is from their website. It says, 'The Confess Project is committed to building a culture of mental health for Black boys, men, and their families through capacity building, advocacy, organizing and movement building. The Confess Project believes in a world without barriers to stigma and shame.' That is absolutely beautiful. I love that. If anybody is in contact with Lorenzo Lewis, please let him know that I would love to have him on the show, so we can be a couple of men talking mental health. Hats off to these guys for talking about mental health. They're doing work to create a world without barriers to stigma and shame. But sadly, comments like 'no more men talking mental health on podcast' perpetuates that stigma and shame.

All I really want to do is have a conversation with Chelsea Fagan about why she would make a comment like that. I've emailed her. I've sent her a message on Instagram, but I haven't heard back from her yet. But when you have 844,000 followers, when you have nearly a million followers, you need to be more responsible with your messaging. So, Chelsea, if you're listening, let's chat. It doesn't have to be a public conversation. This is not some ploy to get you on this podcast. This is not some attack. I do not want to sabotage you in any way, shape, or form. I don't want to blindside you in any way, shape, or form. I would just like to have a conversation with you about why you would think making a comment like that was appropriate, given the mental health stigma and crises many middle-aged men face these days. I think I've made my point abundantly clear about why comments like 'no more men talking mental health on podcast' perpetuate the stigma and shame many men feel when it comes to being vulnerable enough to share what's truly going on with their mental health.

So, if you want to chat, you can reach me at mindfulmidlifecrisis@gmail.com or you can visit the website at www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com, and shoot me a message via the contact page. You can DM me on Instagram @mindful_midlife_crisis just so we can chat about this. Listen, if you're feeling up to it after we have this conversation, I would love to have you on the show some time to share some of your sound financial expertise. Because I truly mean this. You really do a great job of providing people with smart money moves and advice, but we also need to address your comment. Because, again, comments like that perpetuate the stigma and shame men feel when it comes to talking about mental health. When you have a platform of nearly a million people, you need to be more aware of the impact a comment like that can have on the work many of us are doing to break down these barriers.

So, to wrap up, I'm looking forward to the next three episodes of men talking mental health on podcast with my guests Pradeep Sangha, Commander John McCaskill, and Eric Romanak. Be sure to subscribe to The Mindful Midlife Crisis wherever you get your podcasts. If you liked this episode, check out the show notes for the episodes I referenced throughout this one. I'll be sure to link those episodes in the show notes for easy access. You will also find a link to leave a five-star review if you're feeling so inclined. If you know someone who may enjoy this episode or another one of our episodes, do us a favor and share it with them. I would really appreciate that. I know Brian on the Bass — wherever he is, he's probably rocking out right now — he would appreciate that as well. Hey, if you know Chelsea Fagan or if you're a fan of the Financial Diet like me, feel free to pass this along to her as well. But please remember to be nice, be curious, and seek first to understand. That is the first step to building awareness and empathy. So, this is Billy. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy, and loved. Take care friends.