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Daniel Brereton
Daniel Brereton, "Harry"

Watch these short films exploring the loneliness of male depression

We speak to filmmaker Daniel Brereton about this work following two men in their journey with mental health

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. It’s a shocking statistic. When Dazed Beauty investigated on male mental health for our Beyond the Masc campaign last month, Simon Gunning, CEO of CALM an organisation leading the movement against male suicide, reported that more than four in 10 men under the age of 45 in the UK have contemplated taking their own lives. 

Mental health, of course, doesn’t discriminate in who it affects but cultural pressures on men have meant that they are often much less likely to come forward with their troubles, to talk openly about what they are going through and to seek help. It’s what Gunning refers to as “the damaging masculine stereotype that conflates strength with silence.” 

Attempting to combat this deep-rooted silence is Daniel Brereton. Earlier this year, the filmmaker travelled up to the north-west of England to shoot two of his friends as they open up about their journey with mental health. “The aim of the films is to create a dialogue with people who may have similar issues and encourage them to speak out to loved ones or professionals,” says Brereton. “I hope that everyone can gain insight from the films, helping them to help people they know who are going through difficult times.” 

Why did you make these films?

Daniel Brereton: I had been interested in the subject of mental health, and how it affects everybody, and I wrote to someone I knew and asked if they wanted to make a film about their experience with mental health. I then asked a second person later on about making another film. I was drawn to these people as I felt they had a story to tell, and they were kind and open enough to share that very personal story with me.

Who are the men in the films and how did you meet them?

Daniel Brereton: They are both friends, one very old and one a newer friend, and having that friendship meant that they were able to be vulnerable and open up. It took some courage on my part to approach them, but I'm glad I did. We began the process by just meeting up and recording a conversation, and then the imagery of the films was created as a result of this conversation.

What do you hope to achieve with the films?

Daniel Brereton: The aim of the films is to create a dialogue with people who may have similar issues and encourage them to speak out to loved ones or professionals. I hope that everyone can gain insight from the films, helping them to help people they know who are going through difficult times. 

How far do you think the conversation around male mental health has come? 

Daniel Brereton: It is getting better, but as with most things, we have a long way to go. My own personal conversation is getting better, and I am glad that it is ok to talk about mental health and not be seen as being weak. 

Where do you think we might make more progress?

Daniel Brereton: I think by making things simple and easy to understand, we are able to inform more people, and so if the subject is talked about and explained in a manner that anyone can understand then that makes it more inclusive. This could be through any kind of media.

What does masculinity mean to you? 

Daniel Brereton: I think there are both masculine and feminine qualities in all of us, and I think it is about being aware of this. Being confident and caring, supportive and kind is masculine, and it is also feminine

What do you think the future of masculinity is? 

Daniel Brereton: Knowing yourself and knowing that you can be a man and still be feminine.