Thankfully we live in a time where men are allowed to openly speak about their mental health. Toxic masculinity is no longer clouding our society, thankfully! Tom Home, the founder of blOKes, is someone who continues to provide a space for men to open up.
Tom Home, a Psychology graduate from Northumbria University, shared with me how his own experiences inspired him to establish blOkes in the summer of 2020.
“My depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) reared its head for the first time in November 2016 when I had just started my second year at university,”
While society is slowly moving away from any stigma attached to mental health, during his second year at university, Tom was another person who opposed the idea of talking about his struggles. “I found it incredibly hard and somewhat embarrassing to even think about admitting to my friends and family that I had been diagnosed with mental health issues due.”
In a sense, the first step of overcoming mental health barriers is to understand your state. For Tom, it was a matter of once he understood his struggles he became passionate about wanting other men to open up more.
“I became really passionate about wanting to encourage men to acknowledge their thoughts and feelings and not just put them to the back of their mind.”
In what was a tough time for everyone, the first lockdown was an experience none of us shall ever forget, as they continue to be a common occurrence in the world we live in today. But it was during this period that Tom put the works in motion. ” Knowing that I wanted to do something around men’s mental health awareness, the first national lockdown gave me an opportunity to take some time that I wouldn’t usually have to think about what it is that I wanted to do.”
In the short time blOKes has been going, it has been great to see the growth of the brand. Remarkably several top athletes are brand ambassadors, established partnerships with grassroots and professional sports clubs, and wellbeing brands, blOKes has been making big strides and Tom could not be prouder.
“I’m incredibly overwhelmed and thankful that blOKes have received such an incredible response from men and women from all walks of life.”
For now, Tom is not thinking about the long-term, as he’d rather think about things one day at a time. First and foremost, Tom wants to continue fundraising to support his partners. “For me, the main priority is going to be fundraising for our mental health partners, so that we have the ability to support them and their members with the opportunity to invest further in mental health education, initiatives and campaigns.”