Former Google Executive Calls Out Company Over Human Rights

Former Google Executive Calls Out Company Over Human Rights

Ross Lajeunesse, Google’s former Head of International Relations, has claimed he was pushed out of the company for his human rights advocacy. In his recent blog post, Lajeunesse spoke out against Google’s exclusionary workplace culture, as well as the company’s suspected co-operation with human rights abuses in China and Saudi Arabia. Google’s human rights and inclusion record has been repeatedly called into question over the last number of months and Lajeunesse is the most recent of many employees who claim they faced retaliation against workplace activism.

 

A major criticism of Google over the last number of years has been its co-operation with the governments of China and Saudi Arabia with their human rights abuses. The development of Google’s ‘Dragonfly’ project, a search engine that would comply with China’s censorship and surveillance laws, faced much objection until it was eventually terminated in December of 2018. Google has also been heavily condemned for hosting certain applications of the Saudi government, including ‘Absher’, an app which enables men to track and control female family members. In response to the development of these projects, Lajeunesse claims he advocated for the integration of a human rights based approach in decision making, but that this suggestion was repeatedly dismissed. He argues that human rights concerns where overshadowed by the drive for “bigger profits and higher stock prices”. 

 

Further to its poor international human rights record, Google’s internal workplace relations have also invited criticism. According to Lajeunesse, workers from marginalised backgrounds are particularly vulnerable to unfair treatment at Google. He described young female employees being bullied and screamed at by senior colleagues, as well as “diversity” exercises in which workers were separated by race and sexuality and encouraged to shout slurs at each other. Lajeunesse says he repeatedly raised these issues with HR, but they were never meaningfully responded to. In February 2019, despite being highly rated within the company, Lajeunesse was told he no longer had a job. While Google claims this was down to company “reorganisation,” Lajeunesse holds that it was his advocacy for human rights and inclusion that cost him his career. Since leaving Google, LaJeunesse has spoken out about the importance of government intervention in the area of human rights and is currently running in the Democratic Senate primary in Maine. 

 

LaJeunesse is not the first to accuse Google of punishing worker activism. In October 2018, over 20,000 Google employees around the world staged a walkout, protesting the companies handling of sexual harassment. In June 2019, Claire Stapleton, one of the walkout leaders, retired after twelve years with the company. She says this decision came after facing months of structural retaliation against her activism, including being demoted, isolated and gaslit. Since leaving, Stapleton has spoken out publicly about Google’s systematic discrimination of women and minorities, as well as the culture of retaliation she claims is being used to quash employee action. 

 

Despite reports of punitive backlash, collective worker action continued to grow throughout 2019. A network of employee activists has tackled a vast range of issues, from promoting the rights of part-time workers to petitioning Google to rule out working with agencies such as the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In November, amidst a climate of growing labour unrest, it was revealed that the company had hired an anti-union consulting firm. Shortly after, four employee activists announced they were filing federal charges against the company, claiming they had been fired due to their role in labour organizing. The four activists believe that their termination was intended to act as a warning to other employees. Cases like these are especially threatening to Google’s contract and temporary workers, who make up 54% of its workforce and are uniquely vulnerable to this kind of retaliation. Nonetheless, it is clear that labour unrest at Google has continued to escalate in light of the firings.

 

Google’s repeated controversies in the areas of inclusion, human rights compliance, minority rights and labour relations pose serious questions about the power of Big Tech in our society. Evident in the records of companies such as Amazon and Facebook, these issues are not unique to Google and are perhaps symptomatic of a more fundamental problem. Can the profit-driven business model which dominates our economy be compatible with human rights? Or, as suggested by Lajeunesse, are these issues “the inevitable outcome of a corporate culture that rewards growth and profits over social impact and responsibility”?

 

 

Photo by Google Inc. [Public domain]

 

 

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Former Google Executive Calls Out Company Over Human Rights

Ross Lajeunesse, Google’s former Head of International Relations, has claimed he was pushed out of the company for his human rights advocacy. He is the most recent of many employees who claim they faced retaliation against workplace activism.

#GE2020: A Final Manifesto Rundown

We have seen the final debates, been enveloped in canvassing and leaflets and passed by the posters and flyers distributed around the country. As polls indicate a possible change in direction for the Irish government; it is important to recap on each party’s promises before casting our votes. Each party has a full manifesto available online, but here is a brief summary of various stances and responses on key human rights issues.

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Yet Again, Love Island Is Failing Us On Diversity

Yet Again, Love Island Is Failing Us On Diversity

The January blues may be in full swing here in Ireland, but over on ITV2, love is in the air with the arrival of the very first winter season of Love Island. Although you cannot fault the extremely popular reality show on its entertainment value, it has come under scrutiny time and time again for its lack of body diversity, lack of racial representation and heteronormativity, and this season is no exception. 

 

When the cast was announced a few weeks ago, the array of toned and buff bods did not come as a shock to most of us but was somewhat of a disappointment. This is not the first time that ITV has been criticised for the lack of body diversity of the contestants. In fact, the creative director of ITV Studios Entertainment Richard Cowles responded to similar complaints last year by saying, “Yes we want to be as representative as possible but we also want [the contestants] to be attracted to one another.” He also said that the cast was “a group of people we want to watch for eight weeks.” By insinuating that viewers would not want to watch different body types on their screens, Cowles and ITV are perpetuating the idea that there is only one acceptable body type, and that anything outside of that is both unacceptable and unattractive.

 

 

This season, in spite of the lack of body diversity, certain contestants have still been the butt of a joke due to their physical appearance. While body image is something we usually consider a women’s issue, in the Love Island villa it would appear that men suffer scrutiny as much, if not more so, than women. 

 

In the first episode, after the girls have introduced themselves and are enjoying a glass of champagne, they chat about what their “type” is. One thing the girls can all agree on is that they prefer a tall “manly man”. As the show has progressed, we have seen Nas suffer as a result of his height. His original partner, Siannise complained that he was too short and his height was the subject of ridicule in a game the islanders played on Sunday the 19th’s episode. In a game where islanders had to guess the answer to questions about their partners, Jess had to guess Nas’s greatest fear. Her answer, “heights,” was an obvious source of laughter. Being a good sport, he has taken the teasing on the chin. However, as viewers we cannot help but think, ‘if a woman got this much flak for her physical appearance, would we be more outraged?’ 

 

 

ITV has also been accused of lack of representation when it comes to race. The cast has undoubtedly become more racially diverse as the seasons have gone on, but this has allowed for latent racial prejudices to be played out on our screens. The producers have been accused of giving black women very little air time, an issue that was pointed out in the cases of both Samira from the 2018 cast and Yewande from last year’s cast. The absence of Yewande from our screens became so blatant last year that it prompted the use of the Twitter hashtag #whereisyewande. A similar case could also be made for this season’s Leanne. While her partner Mike seems to be one of the cast’s principal characters, Leanne is fading into the background. Fans may defend the show by saying that perhaps these contestants’ storylines just aren’t as interesting, but others would argue that there is a pattern emerging. 

 

https://twitter.com/JOYFULUVIE/status/1218288876923641856

 

There is also a strong argument for the problem of the fetishization of contestants of colour and of mixed race in the show. This first came to light in the 2018 series, when both Georgia Steel and Ellie Brown said their type was “mixed race.” This resulted in frustration and it was explained that claiming to be attracted to mixed race people is incredibly reductive as it assumes that all mixed race people look alike – an assumption that could not be more wrong. In this season the comparisons between Asian contestant Nas and Disney’s Aladdin have provoked some backlash. Perhaps this is only the case because his first partner, Siannise, compared herself to Jasmine. In any case, the debate surrounding the ways we view the contestants (and of course how they view each other) according to their appearance continues. 

 

The most glaringly obvious way in which Love Island has missed the memo in terms of representation is in its extremely heteronormative format. The entire concept of the show is based on heterosexuality. The idea is akin to a glamorous Lisdoonvarna – a group of attractive twenty-somethings lounging around a villa in swimwear figuring out who they fancy the most, that person being of the opposite sex of course. The only departure from this heteronormative format was in 2016, when two bisexual women had a brief fling. Writing for the Guardian, Fay Schopen has argued that if Love Island is supposed to be reality TV, surely it should reflect reality more accurately. 

 

 

This sentiment can be applied to the show in general. The appeal of Love Island lies in the gritty moments of authenticity. As members of the audience, we love to see our own dating woes played out before our eyes. We relish the moments of pure love and mourn the moments of pure heartbreak. The fact that the cast members are presented to us as real, normal people allows us to share in their joy and their anguish in a way we can’t with scripted television. 

 

The body type, race and sexuality of the islanders do not (or at least should not) impact our connection with them, and Love Island producers are greatly underestimating their viewership if they believe that to be the case. 

 

 

Photo by ITV 

 

 

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Former Google Executive Calls Out Company Over Human Rights

Ross Lajeunesse, Google’s former Head of International Relations, has claimed he was pushed out of the company for his human rights advocacy. He is the most recent of many employees who claim they faced retaliation against workplace activism.

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The January blues may be in full swing but over on ITV2, love is in the air with the arrival of the very first winter season of Love Island. Although you cannot fault the extremely popular reality show on its entertainment value, it has come under scrutiny time and time again for its lack of body diversity, lack of racial representation and heteronormativity – this season is no exception.

Could Community Sponsorship be the Answer to Refugee Integration in Ireland?

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Could Community Sponsorship be the Answer to Refugee Integration in Ireland?

Could Community Sponsorship be the Answer to Refugee Integration in Ireland?

In the last few years, issues of displacement and resettlement for those seeking refuge from war and violence has become increasingly important across the world. Since 2011, the Syrian War has thrown millions of people into a state of displacement, travelling thousands of miles to seek asylum in countries in which they will be safe from war and persecution. European governments, including Ireland, in 2015-16 committed to resettling Syrian refugees in several EU countries through traditional government resettlement programmes. As the years draw on and many EU countries have broken promises or failed to meet quotas, alternative pathways to resettlement and integration are looking more attractive. These alternatives also appear to be more successful in the long term. 

Community Sponsorship is a pathway to resettlement that involves refugees being welcomed directly into a community by a group of people who have already committed to helping them settle in and integrate into the community. The concept was created in Canada in the late 1970s, with 300,000 refugees successfully resettled since that time. It involves a community group who commit to providing financial, social and administrative support to a refugee family (or individual) and give them a helping hand into beginning their life in this community. The focus of community sponsorship, according to Nasc (the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre) is “promoting independence, agency and social inclusion for the [Community] Groups and the refugee families”. Generally, the Community Group fundraise a sum of money, source accommodation for the family, and provide language, healthcare and educational support to help the family integrate. Rather than being dropped into an unfamiliar country, often with an unfamiliar language and culture, forced to start from scratch; the family already have an in-built support system and social group to slot into and begin their new life.

In 2015, Ireland committed to resettling 4,000 refugees through the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, of which community sponsorship was one strand. Just over 2,500 refugees have arrived in the four years since the IRPP began. In Ireland, the pilot scheme for Community Sponsorship was launched in 2017 with the first family arriving in Ireland in December 2018. The Al Fakir family from Syria were resettled in Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath, and quickly became involved in community activities such as the local ‘Park Run’, with their daughter Lorca attending a local primary school. Through community sponsorship, five Syrian families have been welcomed into communities in Cork, Meath and Waterford since the scheme was launched. Unlike people arriving into Direct Provision centres, those arriving into Ireland through Community Sponsorship have already been given refugee status and have been identified as needing resettlement. Community Sponsorship takes the responsibility of welcoming refugee families out of the hands of impersonal government officials and forms, and into the open arms of a community ready to welcome them with support and friendship. 

One Community Group who have made this commitment to welcome a refugee family are the St Luke’s Welcomes group in St Luke’s, Cork City who are working along with Nasc to resettle a family in their community. The group was established in the Spring of 2019, by a few members of the community who realised they all shared a desire to act regarding the ongoing refugee crisis. Several of the members had been involved already with the work of Nasc, while for others this is their first taste of activism. One of the members, Jean, talked about how a leaflet through her door from St Luke’s Welcomes coincided with her watching the emotional RTÉ series Taken Down, inspiring her to act and get involved. The group are in the process of finding a house for the family to rent in the St Luke’s area, as well as fundraising an amount of around €10,000 to help with initial costs and support. One of the group members, Maria, who is also the Nasc Community Sponsorship Project Worker, outlined that this fundraised money would go towards things such as initial rent payments, transport costs, healthcare and dentistry needs, interpretation costs and English language tuition. The aim is that these costs will be taken over by the family once they have social welfare payments or an income, but they take away some of the extra hurdles to integration presented by emergency reception centres, which are often isolated from the community. 

Many members of the group believe that not only is Community Sponsorship simply a superior method than traditional resettlement, but it is particularly fitting for resettlement in Ireland. Ailbhe, a member of St Luke’s Welcomes, feels that Community Sponsorship is particularly suited to the Irish mentality and the welcoming nature of the way we live in communities in this country. She said that Irish people find it easier to get behind initiatives like this which avoid years and years of paperwork, and many people see Community Sponsorship as a refreshingly direct route compared to more traditional resettlement. All the members were surprised and touched by the level of positive response they had received from inside and outside of the St Luke’s community, with people approaching them offering many different forms of support and services.

 In modern Ireland, especially in cities like Cork, we often forget the importance of communities. Initiatives like this help to remind us of the benefit that having a community and support system around us has in helping integration and building relationships. Nasc describes how Community Sponsorship requires “hard work, imagination and […] commitment” and can empower not only the resettled family, but also the community that they are welcomed into; creating stronger bonds than may have ever been possible without it.

 

 

Photo by St Luke’s Welcomes

 

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Five Humanitarian Hotspots 2020

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Could Community Sponsorship be the Answer to Refugee Integration in Ireland?

Community Sponsorship is a pathway to resettlement that involves refugees being welcomed directly into a community by a group of people who have committed to helping them settle in and integrate. One group who have made this commitment are the St Luke’s Welcomes group in Cork City who realised they all shared a desire to act regarding the ongoing refugee crisis.

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In the realm of international politics, few world leaders have incited such hope and then despair as Myanmar’s president Aung San Suu Kyi. Amidst allegations of genocide against the treatment of Myanmar’s Rohingya population, Suu Kyi has been summoned to the International Court of Justice to answer for her nation’s transgressions.

Mental Health: an entrepreneur’s struggle

Mental Health: an entrepreneur’s struggle

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To give a real and complete insight of mental health struggles, he also talked to Andrea. If you’ve missed the previous articles, you can find them here and here.

Andrea Horan is the owner and entrepreneur of Tropical Popical – a nail bar based on South William Street -, co-founder of the United Ireland podcast – which explores the problems facing Ireland and the world alongside Una Mullaly-, and co-founder of the group ‘no more hotels’ – a series of events based in Dublin to raise awareness of the importance of nightlife culture in Dublin city and the on-going housing crisis. She talked with me about what has influenced her life, her mental health and her self-care routine.

‘’I firmly believe that every moment has an equal impact on shaping my beliefs, approach and understanding of the world. Whether that’s a night spent clubbing or the death of my dad, both had an equal if very different effect on getting me to where I am now”, she started.

“I think the main thing everyone can do is to not post so much on social media and to understand and recognise the virtues of reaching out and talking to someone who is suffering or who is not quite themselves. Engaging in empathy at every level, and not just in a performative way can be the difference in making people feel less exposed” 

She continued – “My self-care routine is making sure I find the time to allocate enough time to doing things I love. Hanging out with friends, going dancing and partying, making sure I have enough downtime on my own. I get very claustrophobic if I’m surrounded by people all the time. It’s all about balancing my social and not so social sides!’’, she concluded.

As a writer and activist, I wanted to write this series on mental health because in this country we don’t talk enough about these issues, we don’t like telling people around us that we’re not feeling great. We, as a country, need to change the definition of mental health because we always think the worst of what mental health is. We need to understand it’s normal to go through depression, anxiety and stress because every single person we know has or is going to go through a similar experience as we do.

I could write a long-winded paragraph about what needs to change but all I’ll say is that we need to confront ignorance and toxic actions that lead people to suffer from mental health issues that we have all allowed grow in society. We need to do better.

 

Photo rights: Andrea Horan

 

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Former Google Executive Calls Out Company Over Human Rights

Ross Lajeunesse, Google’s former Head of International Relations, has claimed he was pushed out of the company for his human rights advocacy. He is the most recent of many employees who claim they faced retaliation against workplace activism.

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Yet Again, Love Island Is Failing Us On Diversity

The January blues may be in full swing but over on ITV2, love is in the air with the arrival of the very first winter season of Love Island. Although you cannot fault the extremely popular reality show on its entertainment value, it has come under scrutiny time and time again for its lack of body diversity, lack of racial representation and heteronormativity – this season is no exception.

Could Community Sponsorship be the Answer to Refugee Integration in Ireland?

Community Sponsorship is a pathway to resettlement that involves refugees being welcomed directly into a community by a group of people who have committed to helping them settle in and integrate. One group who have made this commitment are the St Luke’s Welcomes group in Cork City who realised they all shared a desire to act regarding the ongoing refugee crisis.

Mental Health: an entrepreneur’s struggle

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To give a real and complete insight of mental health struggles, he also talked to Andrea Horan, owner and entrepreneur of Tropical Popical.

Mental health: A musician and a psychotherapist

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about men’s experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To do so, he interviewed a musician and a psychotherapist.

Mental health: A musician and a psychotherapist

Mental health: A musician and a psychotherapist

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about men’s experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. If you’ve missed it, you can read the first article here.

 

For this article, I spoke to Chuckles, an up-and-coming hip-hop artist from Dublin, who talked about how his music career has helped him to understand mental health. 

‘’I do believe being able to express myself through my music has helped me to cope with my mental health on multiple occasions. For a long-time I have suffered with my mental health with it leading me towards suicide and self-destruction. Hip-hop [allowed me] to say what is on my mind and take myself away from the situation. There are times where it’s hard to voice exactly how you are feeling but by sharing a song with someone, it can allow the listener to have a glimpse as to what’s in your head and heart,” confessed Chuckles

“I found some artists that can vocalise how you are trapped in your own little world, with no one to know,  such as Eminem, Token, Seven Spherez, Tech N9ne, Krizz Kaliko and Prozak. They each have a song that either saved me or enabled me to express myself. Krizz Kaliko’s song Scars ft Tech N9ne has a strong impact on myself. This is a hard question, but as men there is still a stigma about it. For myself it’s not easy to turn to family and friends and say ‘I’m not feeling okay today’. Hence why I took the name Chuckles ‘I’m crackin’ some smiles but ain’t a damn thing funny’. I know I have the support there and they all care about what happens, but I don’t want them to worry about me. My music is a way for me to escape, I slip deep into my writings until the cloud lifts” he added.

“I think the best way to reach out to men who are still stuck with reaching out for help is through music, giving them an outlet they initially didn’t have before, a voice they can relate to and eventually open up to someone before it takes over them. Social media is a great tool when used right, by setting up a group page that allows people to share music and that way they can explore the music that affects others to get them through the day. Another way is to remind those who post the comments during mental health week or during the month of November that it’s not just for likes, that being there for someone all year round, supporting them into getting help and remind them there’s nothing wrong with getting help’’. 

Chuckles music is something special. When you listen to his music you can tell he is a passionate, caring and hard-working person. In his song Listen to me, he speaks the truth, he speaks how the innocent and vulnerable people in society are being hurt, he speaks what some of us are afraid to say.

 

 

 

I also spoke to James Byrne who is a good friend but also someone who runs LGBTQ+ community meditation and mindfulness meetups in the heart of Dublin city in the Outhouse community resource center (Address – 105 Capel Street). It is a low-cost service to attend where you can develop and improve your overall mental and spiritual health. They run regularly throughout the year and are an informal relaxed meetup for those looking to get involved in learning to explore their inner self in a caring and safe place. This isn’t the only thing James does, he also runs multiple residential retreats and workshops to help you with all the worries of life. 

If you would like to get involved in the meditation and wellbeing programs James organizes, please contact him at 0831759337.

‘’It is crucial to my work as a psychotherapist that mental health is at the very core of my profession. As a therapist my job is to enable my clients to understand their feelings, this can be looking at what makes them feel happy, anxious, depressed and a whole range of other emotions. Through understanding their emotional selves a little better, it can equip [people] to cope in tough situations in life in a more adaptive way. Physical health and mental health are closely related and are something that I would regularly check in with clients especially around diet, exercise and sleep. I encourage clients if they can [spend time] in nature as much as possible.

Today there is a lot of shame surrounding mental health issues we might be experiencing so I think we need to combat the stigmatization. A lot of men I have worked with as a therapist and in my previous career found the biggest obstacle was reaching out and allowing someone into their world. We still have a societal idea that ‘boys don’t cry’. Thankfully this is changing but too slowly. Younger men are starting to become that little bit more open to talking about feelings and reaching out if they have problems, this is fantastic, but we need to support the men of all ages. Provisional figures show there were 352 suicides last year – 282 male and 70 female – or 7.2 per 100,000 of population, according to the 2018 annual report of the National Office for Suicide Prevention. This is our lowest suicide numbers in 20 years! Men continue to account for 80 per cent of all suicides – in line with global trends – and the 45 to 54-year-old age group are at the highest risk. While suicide prevention is important, and we need to continue to reach out to those who are at risk. We need to look towards the contributing factors, the stresses, the depression, the anxiety, addiction… These are less talked about in the media. The simple answer is to start talking, talk to your friends, talk to your family, talk to a counsellor.’’

James does so much for other people but doesn’t do it for fame or fortune. He does it because he cares for others. He once said to me “that no one has an easy life, we all have troubles and that if you reach out for help someone will answer”. 

 

 

James and Chuckles each speak about their own different stories but I noticed that they share the same experience of being silenced, pushed away. Both of them felt it wasn’t normal to speak up about their mental health because they’re both men. They felt it was wrong. That’s what men feel is appropriate growing up because that is what society and people told them.

 

 

Photos by Chuckle and James

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

 

Former Google Executive Calls Out Company Over Human Rights

Ross Lajeunesse, Google’s former Head of International Relations, has claimed he was pushed out of the company for his human rights advocacy. He is the most recent of many employees who claim they faced retaliation against workplace activism.

Yet Again, Love Island Is Failing Us On Diversity

The January blues may be in full swing but over on ITV2, love is in the air with the arrival of the very first winter season of Love Island. Although you cannot fault the extremely popular reality show on its entertainment value, it has come under scrutiny time and time again for its lack of body diversity, lack of racial representation and heteronormativity – this season is no exception.

Could Community Sponsorship be the Answer to Refugee Integration in Ireland?

Community Sponsorship is a pathway to resettlement that involves refugees being welcomed directly into a community by a group of people who have committed to helping them settle in and integrate. One group who have made this commitment are the St Luke’s Welcomes group in Cork City who realised they all shared a desire to act regarding the ongoing refugee crisis.

Mental Health: an entrepreneur’s struggle

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To give a real and complete insight of mental health struggles, he also talked to Andrea Horan, owner and entrepreneur of Tropical Popical.

Mental health: A musician and a psychotherapist

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about men’s experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. To do so, he interviewed a musician and a psychotherapist.

Movember: a young activist’s perspective

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about their own experience of dealing with mental and physical health issues.

Movember: a young activist’s perspective

Movember: a young activist’s perspective

As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about their own experience of dealing with mental and physical health issues.

 

For most people, November is an average month. But for people like me and many others, it’s a month to reflect and take account of our spiritual, mental and physical health.

Movember takes place every year during the month of, you guessed it, November. It is a month-long campaign to raise funds for health issues that affect men. People do events and fundraisers to help raise money for research and awareness for mental health problems such as suicide and depression and as well for testicular and prostate cancer research. 

The movement began in Australia in 2003 when two friends, Travis and Luke, decided to try and bring the moustache back into fashion. Travis and Luke were inspired by a friend’s mother who had raised money for her breast cancer treatment and decided to create the campaign to focus on men’s mental and physical health. Fast forward 16 years and the campaign has grown into a global movement with over 5 million people spreading awareness and growing a moustache to raise funds for essential research.

It is now a charity that is tackling the issue of men’s health on a global scale. We live in a world where men, on average, are living six years less than women because of medical issues that are largely preventable. In the next 15 years, unchecked prostate cancer rates will double, and already testicular cancer rates have doubled over the last 50 years. One man dies by suicide ever 60 seconds and men account for ¾ of suicides in Ireland.

As a young person today I don’t think a lot about my mortality, but in  November of 2018 I found a lump on my testicles. It shook me in my existence and after I lost a good friend of mine earlier this year to suicide, I have been continuously thinking about what it means to be alive.  

I have dealt with mental health problems in my life, as does everyone else, because that’s what happens. It’s normal to have dark days and it’s normal to go to counselling. It’s made me a happier person and If I didn’t have supports such as the people around me and the help of medical professionals I wouldn’t be here today speaking about my mental health.

 

So why am I raising funds for the Movember Foundation? 

Well, their mission to me is about standing up and saying ‘’yeah I’m not okay – I need help’’.  It’s the ability to do this despite a culture of toxic masculinity perpetuated by people saying things like ‘’buck up’’ and ‘’men don’t cry’’. Well, you know what, I cry, and I don’t care. I shouldn’t have to live in a culture where I see everyone I know hurting.  As an activist and social worker I have a duty to people of all ages to protect their best interest but to also make sure that they are empowered to make their own decisions. It’s important to break the barriers of the ‘’strong man culture’’ we experience in our personal lives and to start talking about mental health stigma.

As part of this series, I have reached out to people who have different stories to tell about their mental health and how it has shaped everything they do now in the present.

We all live in a society where, for too long, people have suffered in silence, where there is a national shortage of mental health professionals and facilities. Mental health doesn’t discriminate, no matter if you come from a rich or poor family, if you are or are not straight. 

At this time the best thing we can do for ourselves, our families and friends, is just talk because there’s no issue too small and no problem too big that can’t be helped if you just talk, because a problem shared is a problem halved. 

Here is a link  to my fundraiser for the Movember foundation, by the end of November I wish to have raised 1000 euro for the foundation. 

So, for all the reasons I have mentioned above please if you could donate what you can afford, it would be greatly appreciated.  The price of a coffee or a pint can go towards helping to stop men dying young.

Thank you.

 

 

Photo by Shannon Takhashi

 

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