Man smiles from a barbershop
Brad SmithImage by: Max Rosenstein
Man smiles from a barbershop
2 September 2022

Brad’s Story: The Market Value of Mental Health

Brad Smith
3 minutes read time

I first heard about Movember from a co-worker. Later, I decided to get to know more about the reasoning for this annual rebellion against razors, and that it was in fact a growing number of men who were proactively prioritizing health awareness in their life.

Overcoming Challenges Professionally and Personally

As a Black American man in financial news media, the challenge at first was overcoming the feeling of being an imposter. The journey certainly began with learning how to respect my own worth, appreciating my experience and valuing my perspective. The supportive circle of family and friends have been critical — they encourage and remind me that the representation I contribute to is significant for the historical journey of Black Americans in financial news media.

The Importance of Starting Men’s Health Conversations in the Black Community

Historically, men of color have been stigmatized as unstable and labeled as a heightened threat risk. What we must acknowledge is that mental health is not a transitive behavioral property prescribed by skin color, and also that factors such as familial wealth, access to healthcare and collective experiences in society all play a role in any person's physical, emotional and mental health.

If any human was repeatedly told for long enough that they are imbalanced — or to the opposite end consistently reaffirmed they are totally capable of extreme composure — all solely based on the color of their skin, then outcomes for that person may vastly differ and cast judgment on them instead of the systematic logical fallacy. Barriers have been self-imposed by societal gatekeepers, so to counter the historical preconceived notions we must collectively put aside unwillingness to effectively communicate, while also championing collective inclusion.

Acknowledging Where We’re at With Well Being

As we're all emerging in different phases from a novel health crisis that has significantly paused momentum in how we socially interact with people in our personal time and/or professionally, my conversations with other men have acknowledged that we’re trying to reteach ourselves certain aspects of communication and interaction. One of the simple things we can do is have grace with each other as everyone is at a different point in their resumption of normalcy or whatever “normal” looks like to them. Another thing we can do is begin our interactions with gratitude. Telling someone how happy you are to see them again, or by complimenting them can go a long way in removing social reluctancy and prioritizing wellbeing. Part of appreciating each other’s presence after the life changing event that this was also means doing more to advocate for each other’s healthcare practices to facilitate more long-term possibilities in life.

Having participated in one of the Movember Sessions panels was a true learning experience, even as a moderator. To be an active listener in a conversation where other men discussed their own experiences and health, and seeing how your own willingness to discuss vulnerability can be the inflection point for someone else’s health trajectory was a tremendous opportunity, and one that I hope to bring forward to others.