A Business Lecturer and Student Support Officer at Solihull College & University Centre is opening the conversation on men’s mental health both at work and outside.
Jat Sidhu, who has worked at the College since 2018, is currently leading the Men’s Mental Health Staff Network, one of the many staff networks set up to enhance inclusion and belonging. Alongside his work at the College, Jat also volunteers for Shout (85258), a confidential text messaging support service for anyone who is struggling to cope.
The Men’s Mental Health Staff Network is led by Jat, a safe space for staff members to talk and build connections
Originally working in Finance, Jat decided to take a career break after having his first baby and came to work at the College. Four years later, and now father to two, he hasn’t looked back. He explains: “I love the College atmosphere and the connections that I’ve built here. I’m surrounded by a supportive team and have been involved in different projects and campaigns.”
As well as volunteering for Shout, Jat is involved in a range of mental health charities and fundraising activities and manages his community organisation social media account which offers mental health advice to men in the South Asian community.
Jat comments: “As a male, I am aware of the stigma around mental health in men and within the wider South Asian community. I believe through open conversations we can get to a place where future generations don’t face the same barriers when expressing their challenges.”
How did he get involved with Shout? “I wanted to do something bigger. I have learnt as a father, and through my various careers, the challenges that we all face mentally but something we may not always include in common conversation. This is what drove me to volunteer for Shout, it was a chance for me to give back and highlight that mental health matters. After completing their training programme, I am now in a position where I can offer others support.”
Jat works as both a Business Lecturer and a Student Support Officer at the College
Jat also began leading the Men’s Mental Health Staff Network at the College earlier this year: “I feel my role as a Student Support Officer helps me understand students better thus making me a more empathetic teacher but also a more caring colleague. The staff network is a safe space where we can share our thoughts knowing we’re in likeminded company. It’s also more than just a space, it’s about creating that inclusive environment and destigmatising men’s mental health.”
What’s one thing you can share that would summarise your understanding of Mental Health? Jat answers: “We all have mental health, just like we all have limbs. Mental health problems don’t define who you are, they are something you experience. Matt Haig puts it perfectly when he says, ‘you walk in the rain and you feel the rain but, importantly, you are not the rain'”.