[00:00:00] Ryan Parke: Actually, the, the idea that men don't talk is. The more you think about it, it's kind of ridiculous. When you go to a pub on a Friday night, it's full of men talking. You go to, like, five a side football, all they're doing is talking. And even the idea that, in fact, lots of people complain that the men in meetings talk over them.
[00:00:16] Ryan Parke: So actually, when you look outside of... that myth, it's like, Oh, actually, this is definitely not true. And the idea that men don't express emotion, if you go to a football game, you will see you and one team loses badly, you might see 30, 000 men in tears at once. But because they're expressing emotion at a different time to when women do, there's this idea that that's somehow wrong
[00:00:42] Marion Ellis: Welcome to the Surveyor Hub podcast, the podcast for surveyors who just love what they do. I'm Marian Ellis, and in today's episode, I catch up with Ryan Park, also known as the men's coach. He's a TEDx and international award winning public [00:01:00] speaker.
[00:01:00] Marion Ellis: Ryan works with companies and charities that want to improve mental health for men by taking an evidence based approach and his coaching programme helps men to overcome depression, beat procrastination and achieve their life goals. There is a trigger warning here. We do talk about male mental health and death by suicide.
[00:01:20] Marion Ellis: And if you were thinking of skipping this podcast because it isn't strictly surveying related, Please don't. You just might learn something new which could make all the difference to you or a surveying colleague.
[00:01:37] Marion Ellis: Welcome to the podcast, Ryan.
[00:01:39] Ryan Parke: Thank you so much. I'm really, really excited to be here, Marion.
[00:01:43] Marion Ellis: Oh, I'm quite well, I'm excited. Oh, am I nervous? No, I'm, I've been apprehensive because I haven't recorded a podcast in a long, long time. And. Every time I was going to just thought it takes quite a bit [00:02:00] to persuade some people to actually come on the podcast. I mean, I was trying to think when we we met and I think it was when you're working for a report writing software.
[00:02:12] Marion Ellis: And, um, I think we, we exchanged a few messages, emails, and you did a great session for my, um, uh, some of my masterminders, uh, at the time. Uh, and then I noticed that you were talking, well, I noticed before actually that you didn't just talk about tech, you talked about people and everyone says as surveyors, you know, we're a people business.
[00:02:34] Marion Ellis: We are, but we tend to focus on the geeky tech stuff or the juicy defect or the contract or lease or whatever it is. We don't always talk about, about people and it's quite a hard thing. I'm sure we'll talk about that today, but I noticed your approach was very people focused. And I think we, you know, we, we got on well.
[00:02:52] Marion Ellis: And then I noticed. That you started to get into sort of the coaching space and specifically men. [00:03:00] Um, and so I thought it'd be really good just to chat about that for my, if anything, like a lot of these podcasts for my own benefit, our listeners are along for the ride, but tell me a bit about your, your background and how you got to where you are today.
[00:03:12] Ryan Parke: Yeah, sure. Well, um, I think the most interesting thing or the most relevant thing would be what got me into all this in the beginning. So can I tell you what got me into mailman? And I I got a lot of respect for you, but also tons of respect for surveyors. Because when I was working at Captego, I saw how difficult it is being a building surveyor.
[00:03:34] Ryan Parke: You know, you've got so much, the average building surveyor has got so much expertise and, and they've got to communicate that across to someone who is probably buying a house, might be a first time buyer under massive stress. And they kind of just want to know, should I buy the house? Yes or no. But then they also want to know all the other million things that the surveyor saw.
[00:03:54] Ryan Parke: Yeah, I'm really excited to be here. And I think you've got a great audience as well. And my story, when it comes to [00:04:00] moment of health begins in 2019 and in June, 2019, I bumped into a lady who I hadn't seen in years. And I was really excited to hear the latest about her son. Cause Jenny's son, Brad was taller than me, more muscular.
[00:04:14] Ryan Parke: Some would say slightly better looking, although I know you can't believe that. Right. It's not possible.
[00:04:19] Marion Ellis: Thank goodness this is audio.
[00:04:23] Ryan Parke: So, Brad had a fast car, big house and a great job. And he was a dad with a loving wife. And because we grew up in the same road, I used to look up to him and I used to think that I was on the same trajectory as Brad, but I was just a couple of years behind because of the age difference. Then I saw the look on his mum's face and I realised I'd said something wrong.
[00:04:45] Ryan Parke: And Jenny said, basically, Oh my God, Ryan, you're asking me how Brad is. You don't know. Brad's killed himself. And I was really taken aback by that, Marion, for two main reasons. Number one, up until that point in my life, I [00:05:00] had always believed that when people are successful, they will be happy. And Brad was easily the most successful man I knew. But then number two, I'd always heard what lots of us hear, which is the reason why men have worse mental health outcomes than women when it comes to suicide is because men just don't talk. And yet Brad was easily the most articulate man that I knew. I found out after his death that two years before Brad died, he went to the doctors, asked for help.
[00:05:28] Ryan Parke: He said, Please help. I think I'm depressed. I know I'm having thoughts about suicide. The doctor did what doctors are supposed to do, followed the NICE guidelines. Brad was referred to talking therapy, which he attended, and prescribed antidepressants, which he took. And two months before Brad died, his mum, Jenny, said, Brad, call me every night and tell me how you feel.
[00:05:50] Ryan Parke: Jenny works in mental health and that's... sort of the consensus in mental health is that you've got to get men to open up and talk about how they feel. Brad did that. So I'm [00:06:00] not saying that any of these things didn't help. I'm sure they helped Brad, but what really struck me at the time, Marion, was that here was a man who'd done all the things that we tell men in crisis to do.
[00:06:11] Ryan Parke: And yet he still wasn't here anymore. And Brad's mom, Jenny said to me, well, Ryan, you should learn about this because. Every five hours, four people die from suicide in the UK and Ireland, three of them are men. And Jenny said, I used to think that male mental health was something that just affected men.
[00:06:30] Ryan Parke: But now she said, as a woman who's lost her son, I realized that actually male mental health affects everyone. And I took what Jenny said really seriously. There and then, I set aside one day every week, from June 2019 until the end of the year, to learn everything that I could about male mental health.
[00:06:50] Ryan Parke: And, and I didn't do this I actually didn't even do this to help anyone else marry and I literally did it because I knew Brad wouldn't want what happened to him to happen to me. So the [00:07:00] very, very first Sunday comes up where I've set the whole day aside just to learn about male mental health and I had no idea where to start.
[00:07:08] Ryan Parke: So I had no medical background, no mental health background. At the time in 2019, I was a sales director for a finance company that I founded in, you know, about six years beforehand. And, and actually, if you know me, you'll know I didn't even go to university. I had three GCSEs, so I'm starting from like ground zero, but in some ways that was a bit of an advantage because all I could do was just ask big questions, assume I knew nothing and just read the evidence.
[00:07:38] Ryan Parke: So the first thing I looked for was I wanted to know what are the main factors that affect life expectancy in men. And I'm reading a study a couple of hours into my first day of research. And it just happens to mention that there's one day every year where heart attacks in men, so heart attacks, not suicide, [00:08:00] heart attacks in men jump up by 30%.
[00:08:03] Ryan Parke: And on the same day of the year, heart attacks in women go down by about 30%. Can you guess what day that is?
[00:08:12] Marion Ellis: Is it the same day every year? I was going to say, is it when your kids are born?
[00:08:19] Ryan Parke: Not a bad guess.
[00:08:20] Marion Ellis: a female perspective. Um, I don't know. It would be something like Christmas day or New Year's day.
[00:08:27] Ryan Parke: They're both really good guesses, because heart attacks go up on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, but actually they go up in men and women. And, and there is a day where heart attacks go up greatly in men and down greatly in women. Do you want to have one more guess?
[00:08:43] Marion Ellis: I have no idea. I mean, the things that go through my head are then thinking about stressful times like payday at the end of the month or kids breaking up from school or you know, like the holiday periods. Um... I don't know.
[00:08:57] Ryan Parke: So they're all good guesses, but the one day every [00:09:00] year where heart attacks go really up in men, and really down in women, is the Monday after the clocks jump forward an hour.
[00:09:09] Marion Ellis: Wow. Never thought of that.
[00:09:12] Ryan Parke: And when I learned that, I had to know why. Yeah, same as
[00:09:15] Marion Ellis: Yeah. Why is, why is that?
[00:09:16] Ryan Parke: why? So it turns out that what happens when you miss one hour's sleep, depends on whether you're male or female. And I tend to throw around the terms male and men quite interchangeably, but really I'm talking about anyone that has a male endocrine system.
[00:09:29] Ryan Parke: So that would include trans women, it would include non binary people who were assigned the gender of male above. So, if you have a male endocrine system, Then what happens when you miss one hour's sleep is your testosterone goes down for days. In fact, one study found that missing one hour's sleep lowers a man's testosterone by the equivalent of 12 years of aging. So I'm 33. If I missed one hour's sleep last night, today I'll [00:10:00] have the same level of testosterone as a man who's 45. I missed two hours sleep last night, then today I'll have the same level of testosterone as a man who's 57. And what happens in a man's body is as testosterone goes down, his chances of having a heart attack go up. And when I learned that, I thought, that's really weird. Because at the time I was 29, and I remember thinking my whole life I'd never heard anything good about testosterone. fact, when I was a kid and there was a fight in my local pub, I remember my mum's friends saying, well, it's no wonder they ended up fighting because in the room there was too much testosterone.
[00:10:41] Marion Ellis: Yeah.
[00:10:42] Ryan Parke: Exactly. So I thought, how can a hormone that causes men to fight in pubs also protect men from having a heart attack? So I decided next week, my second day of learning, I'm going to learn about testosterone. That day comes around. First thing I want to learn is why does [00:11:00] testosterone cause fights? Turns out.
[00:11:02] Ryan Parke: It does not cause fights, that was disproved decades ago, just the, the PR on testosterone hasn't caught up with the facts. So now I know testosterone is not bad, I wanted to know why does it protect men from having heart attacks? And I find out that not only does testosterone protect men from having heart attacks, but it also protects a man's mental health.
[00:11:26] Ryan Parke: It's been found that middle aged men who are depressed have on average 30 percent less testosterone. than middle aged men who are not depressed. And that's quite a big difference. You know, imagine having a 30 percent pain cut, you'd really feel it, wouldn't you? And interestingly enough, in middle aged men, low testosterone is also associated with suicide.
[00:11:51] Ryan Parke: So then I was really interested because at that point in 2019, the single biggest killer of men From the age of [00:12:00] 18 to 45 was suicide. Now, four years later, suicide is the biggest killer of men from 18 to 50, because it keeps going up. But at the time it was 18 to 45. Suicide and depression in men are both linked to low levels of testosterone. And I mentioned that in middle aged men, there's a very strong link, which is really relevant because for every three suicides in the UK, of them is a man aged 45 to 49. So middle aged men are really over represented in deaths by suicide. So the biggest killer of men from 18 to 45, suicide, is associated with low testosterone.
[00:12:43] Ryan Parke: The biggest killer of men that year from 45 to 60 was heart disease. And heart disease, heart attack, and heart failure in men are all linked to low testosterone. So then I wondered, okay, if the biggest killers of men from [00:13:00] 45 to 60 are all linked to low testosterone, what happens after the age of 60? The biggest killer of men that year over the age of 60 was cancer.
[00:13:10] Ryan Parke: The most likely cancer a man would be diagnosed with is prostate cancer. And Marion, can you guess what is the single biggest indicator that a man will be diagnosed with prostate cancer?
[00:13:20] Marion Ellis: Testosterone
[00:13:21] Ryan Parke: Yeah, specifically low testosterone. And so when I learned that, that was kind of one of the first moments that made me question what I knew.
[00:13:33] Ryan Parke: Because I remember thinking and realizing that up until that point in my life, I'd never heard anything good about testosterone. And yet testosterone is required. to avoid all the biggest killers of men across all these different age ranges. And yet not only are men not taught that, but also there's actually stigma associated with testosterone that prevents men getting useful information when they're in crisis. And that [00:14:00] was I talk about lots of things that aren't testosterone. But that was the very beginning of my journey. That was my first two days of learning. And then after that, I carried on in this way, which was assuming I know nothing, because I genuinely, Marion, I knew nothing. Like, I didn't even know where to start.
[00:14:16] Ryan Parke: I just carried on, one day a week, starting with big questions, reading studies and research paper. And by the end of that six months, I'd come to the conclusion that... I wasn't actually learning anything new. Everything that I was learning from that point was coming back to the fact that there's actually, there's five dimensions to male mental health that men need to balance.
[00:14:36] Ryan Parke: Understanding testosterone is just one part of one of those dimensions. I started balancing those five things in my own life. And then by about early 2020, other men started to approach me and say like, we've noticed you're much happier, much healthier. Like, what have you changed? And because I had lots of experience from my past job in coaching, I, I [00:15:00] used to, after hiring people, I would then go on to train them, coach them, manage them.
[00:15:06] Ryan Parke: When I was a sales director, I knew a lot about coaching. So I thought, well, what if I took what I knew and just literally shared it in coaching sessions. And then in February 2020, I got a call from a guy who said. You've helped my friend, can we have a call? And, honestly, Marion, he was a phenomenally talented actor.
[00:15:27] Ryan Parke: He was depressed, he was having thoughts about suicide every single day, and he hadn't been paid to work in two years. And we got on a zoom call together and I started by saying like, obviously, you know, that you can't just talk to me, you need to talk to, you know, mental health professionals, go see a doctor, go see, go to counseling at the very least.
[00:15:45] Ryan Parke: And he basically said, Ryan, don't give me that. I'm already doing those things. I want something practical that I can do on the side that will also help. I said, okay, so on that basis, let me just share with you what I've learned. And three days into working together, [00:16:00] he called me in the morning and he said, Ryan, I've just realized that yesterday was the first day in months I've not had any thoughts about suicide.
[00:16:07] Ryan Parke: And ten days in, he called me in the morning and said, Ryan, I've just realized yesterday was the first day in years that I wasn't feeling depressed. And at the end of the 12 weeks that we worked together, because we always decided 12 weeks, we put a cut off in at the end. At the end of the 12 weeks that we worked together, yes, he was no longer depressed, no longer having thoughts about suicide, but probably just as importantly, he'd actually got two new job offers from Netflix and one new job offer from the BBC.
[00:16:33] Ryan Parke: And he's basically spent the last three years filming all around the world. since then. In fact, he, he was on a series that was on BBC quite recently. And I remember I took a step back then I was like, hold on, how did such simple information make such a difference to this guy in the same way it did to me?
[00:16:52] Marion Ellis: That's quite the, that's quite the transformation, but it really, uh, resonates as a, as a coach myself, just seeing how, you know, [00:17:00] over time and with the right nurturing and support and reframing of things, the difference that. That it can make, and there's probably people listening here thinking you've got some miracle, you know, source, and it's really not.
[00:17:14] Marion Ellis: Um, but, but firstly, thank you for sharing that. I know, um, you know, these things are sometimes hard to talk about and there'll be people, um, you know, listening to this that might have, have experience. I have no experience of, of, of anything, you know, like that happening to anybody that, that, that I know and know and love.
[00:17:34] Marion Ellis: Um. And as you're talking, I'm, it's interesting, I'm then thinking about it from a female perspective. So when I trained to be a coach, my first step was to be a women's leadership coach. Um, so just like you, you started to notice things about women, about men, sorry. I noticed the same with women. And a lot of it is, um, hormone dependent, you know, and as women, [00:18:00] we probably have a more.
[00:18:02] Marion Ellis: wobbly journey, if you like, a more adventurous journey with hormones and how it affects us and things. Um, and I think, you know, you're right when it comes to talking about men and women, uh, you know, male and female, um, what I've learned being, having learned those skills. is that actually I've ended up working up with more men than women.
[00:18:24] Marion Ellis: So I think any of these, these skills, well, I suppose, you know, just how we're talking about it, it's not pigeonholing anybody, it's not, you know, or anything. I think it's just, you see something and you learn from it and it can help you. So as you're talking about hormones and testosterone, I'm thinking, yeah, you know, we as women, particularly when you get into your, you know, later menopause years, Um, that can really affect you, uh, and you saying about testosterone, that's something for women also, that they have quite testosterone levels and when it comes, and I took it for, um, for a little while initially, you know, but we, we don't talk about it [00:19:00] because, you know, if I take testosterone as a woman, then, you know, might be growing a beard, you know, or getting into.
[00:19:06] Marion Ellis: It down the pub with fights, you know, all the preconceptions and myths that we have, but there's definitely something there about, you know, whatever shape, size, flavor you are, knowing how hormones affect us because hormones then affect our moods and our energy levels. And it then becomes a, uh, into a cycle, doesn't it?
[00:19:27] Ryan Parke: absolutely. I was at A brilliant event a couple of weeks ago, actually in London, it's called, it was a menopause event. It was called reclaim your body
[00:19:35] Marion Ellis: Oh yeah. I think I, I think I saw that on LinkedIn.
[00:19:38] Ryan Parke: Yeah, that's it. So I was really honored. I was the only male speaker. Um, and I was, you know, essentially talking about the male endocrine system and how it's different, but I learned so much at that menopause event.
[00:19:49] Ryan Parke: Um, it backed up something that I've always believed, which is. Male and female hormones, um, are very different and actually it's much more complicated on the female side. The [00:20:00] cycles are longer, usually around 28 days, you know, and there's things like menopause, perimenopause of symptoms to consider. And as men, we are very lucky.
[00:20:09] Ryan Parke: Our hormonal cycles are 24 hours long. The amount of testosterone that you have in the morning, if you're male, the biggest factor is how long you slept for last night. And actually there's there's sort of four main factors when it comes to testosterone for men, which we can jump into if you want, because they're useful lifestyle factors.
[00:20:28] Ryan Parke: So the biggest difference that I see between a male and a female, so I use this term endocrine system, which just means the hormone system. Um, it's your endocrine system is how your body makes and transports and receives hormones and hormones control. every function in your body. So to say that hormones is important is like the biggest understatement, right?
[00:20:49] Ryan Parke: Cause the way that your brain, the way your brain talks to your body is hormones. It's,
[00:20:54] Marion Ellis: For sure. And we see that in the menopause, you know, as women, we talk about brain fog, you know, if [00:21:00] I, if I haven't, um, you know, had my, got my HRT patch, and I have forgotten it for a week before now, I am a wreck. You know, and it has that such a significant effect. And until you've experienced it, you, you don't, you know, we take so much for granted, don't we, but sorry, you were saying those are these, these four things that, that
[00:21:23] Ryan Parke: Oh, yeah. So, so I've always heard my whole life that the biggest factor when it comes to testosterone in men is age. You know, we hear all the time that once men get to, once men get to 30, their testosterone starts to drop. And there is a small decline in testosterone as men age, but it is nothing compared to lifestyle.
[00:21:43] Ryan Parke: So there's four main factors that influence a man's level of testosterone. The number one factor, which we've already kind of spoken about in a way, Remember, if a man misses one hour of...
[00:21:54] Marion Ellis: sleep.
[00:21:55] Ryan Parke: Yep. Absolutely. So the biggest factor in determining how much testosterone a man [00:22:00] has today is how much sleep he had last night.
[00:22:02] Ryan Parke: And we already looked at, you know, missing one hour of sleep adds the equivalent of 12 years of aging onto your testosterone levels. But then after that, it starts to get quite surprising. So do you want to have a guess? These are all lifestyle factors. They're all things that we can choose and control.
[00:22:19] Ryan Parke: What do you think Yep.
[00:22:22] Marion Ellis: Uh, so I'd say, uh, exercise, uh, the food that you eat.
[00:22:29] Ryan Parke: Yep. Oh, yeah, that's really good actually. So, so number two factor, I'd probably put number two down to diet. And specifically, for making a healthy level of testosterone, men need homemade food, as opposed to processed food, and lots and lots of green veg. In fact, you can kind of
[00:22:51] Marion Ellis: Oh, but the thing is, the thing is, Ryan, that sounds so bloody boring.
[00:22:55] Ryan Parke: yeah,
[00:22:58] Marion Ellis: Because it's, you know, it's the same for women, you [00:23:00] know, if you, if you eat well, then you'll, you know, you'll feel better. Um, but sometimes you just can't be arsed.
[00:23:08] Ryan Parke: and, and you know what, especially if you're stressed and you're working hard and you're going from one survey to another, and you're in the rain, you're just probably going to buy a sandwich from a supermarket and it's full of salt and it's full of sugar and it's full of carbs and there's no real greenery in it and the end result is your body can't make the hormones that it wants to make to protect you and keep you alive.
[00:23:32] Ryan Parke: In fact, The thing about greenery, about green vegetables is it's full of things like, uh, you know, magnesium. It's full of other minerals and vitamins as well. And they act as bodyguards to testosterone in our blood. So they, things bind to testosterone and make it unusable. And the more greenery that you eat, the more bodyguards that you have that block things like SHBG and aromatase for breaking testosterone down.
[00:23:59] Ryan Parke: [00:24:00] Unfortunately, life on the go means that we just don't get to eat whole foods. And this is taking a really big toll on men's testosterone levels. And then you actually, oh go
[00:24:10] Marion Ellis: Sorry, I'm just gonna, just on that point there, so I'm just thinking about all the surveyors who might be listening to this driving around in their cars. Um, and you know, when I, when I used to be out doing my inspections, I would have my favorite sandwich shops, in particular, Piggy's in North Corridor. uh, you know, you'd, you'd find your, your favorite, you know, always make sure they had a five star hygiene rating.
[00:24:33] Marion Ellis: Uh, but... I'm just thinking about people driving around, but it's so hard to then, you know, um, I say it hard, it's, it's finding the, um, Uh, the motivation, you know, to make a packed lunch in the morning or to organize your day so that you've got go to a healthy food shop, uh, or whatever, you know, it's, it's finding that, that motivation [00:25:00] towards it.
[00:25:00] Marion Ellis: Whereas I've just been negative about, well, I can't be arsed eating healthy food, all of those
[00:25:05] Ryan Parke: It's true.
[00:25:06] Marion Ellis: But, but at some point. It will, it will click in and you change one thing and it starts to, starts to make a difference. And, and you talking about, um, processed food, uh, I've been reading a book, um, called Ultra Processed Food by one of the, the doctors, the, uh, twins.
[00:25:23] Marion Ellis: Van Tolican, I think it is. Um, I'll put a link to it in the, in the show notes. And that's quite an eye opener. Actually, it's, it's a nice read, um, too. But, um, yeah. Okay. So sleep is one, diet is two. What's three?
[00:25:36] Ryan Parke: Yep. So three is exercise. And in fact, there was an amazing, um, there's a really big study came out in May this year. So it's referred to as a meta analysis where it's a study that studied other studies. And they looked at how 130, 000 adults had recovered from depression, stress and anxiety. And what they found is that exercise was one and a half times more [00:26:00] effective than medication and one and a half times more effective than talking therapy.
[00:26:05] Ryan Parke: And this is really useful for us to know because if you have a friend who is depressed, stressed or anxious and they go and see their GP, if their GP follows the guidelines from the NHS, then your friend will leave the GP's office with a referral for talking therapy and a prescription for antidepressants.
[00:26:24] Ryan Parke: But they might get to that stage and still no one's told them that the single most effective thing they can do is to get out and do some exercise. So this is really important for people to know, I believe.
[00:26:37] Marion Ellis: And you see, um, you know, sometimes there are, that's why things like five a side football for men or, you know, uh, my husband has taken up cycling, um, all the gear, no idea.
[00:26:51] Ryan Parke: Yeah.
[00:26:52] Marion Ellis: He doesn't listen to this, that's fine, but he, you know, but he started going out on a, on a Sunday morning with, you know, some of the, the local dads from the beer club.[00:27:00]
[00:27:00] Marion Ellis: Um, and it's made a huge difference. You know, um, it's just, again, it's about that motivation, isn't it? How do you just start doing that one thing, particularly if you're not feeling particularly fit and healthy at the start, you know, and finding that, that energy. Um, how much exercise do you need to do? Is it any or is there
[00:27:20] Ryan Parke: So the NHS recommends that every adult does at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise. So this is your jogging, maybe you're swimming, you're cycling. Now if you're nowhere near that, any exercise is better than no exercise. Our body is designed to be active and there's lots of functions in our body that support our mental and our physical health that don't actually happen unless we're exercising.
[00:27:45] Ryan Parke: And so. You know, trying to improve your mental health without exercising is, it's a bit like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer and then telling everyone how much it hurts. It's like, well, it's going to hurt. It's, it's, that's not the way your body works. You know, you really have to be [00:28:00] active as well.
[00:28:01] Marion Ellis: So it's also then finding something that you enjoy,
[00:28:04] Ryan Parke: Yep.
[00:28:04] Marion Ellis: guess is a, is a key part of it, isn't it? So what's number four?
[00:28:08] Ryan Parke: Yep. So the number four is, and this I could never guess, the fourth key ingredient for healthy level of testosterone in men is vitamin D, which comes from the sun.
[00:28:19] Marion Ellis: Which we don't have an awful lot of here, I suppose, being in the Northern Hemisphere.
[00:28:24] Ryan Parke: yeah, especially in the winter. So your body's really good at storing vitamin D. Everyone's is, but the trouble is. Summer sun, mid day, in the summer, 8 to 10 minutes is enough for your body to get enough vitamin D for the day. But during the winter, who gets out at mid day? And during the winter you have to be out for a couple of hours because we cover up so much.
[00:28:46] Ryan Parke: So lots of people supplement vitamin D in the winter. And, and vitamin D is required for the making of testosterone. Otherwise what happens is men end up with very low levels of testosterone because it's required for that actual manufacturing process. [00:29:00] And when I saw that list of four things that men need to have in their life for a healthy level of testosterone, I remember thinking, Oh crap, because I knew Brad and I know that, yes, he did all the things we tell men in crisis to do.
[00:29:13] Ryan Parke: He went to the doctors, he took antidepressants, he went to talking therapy, he called his mom every night and opened up about how he was feeling. But no one he spoke to knew enough about male mental health to realize that Brad was working so hard. That I knew that sleep, homemade food, exercise and sunshine just weren't on his list of priorities.
[00:29:34] Ryan Parke: At the time in my life, they weren't online. And I realized that actually trying to be a man is something that I think kills a lot of men.
[00:29:42] Marion Ellis: Ooh, that's powerful, isn't it?
[00:29:46] Ryan Parke: It's really just not here at the time.
[00:29:48] Marion Ellis: yeah, that that absolutely is, and... I was going to ask you about why men don't talk. Um, but you just struck me there. But I suppose it's, I suppose [00:30:00] it's that, that, that, um, preconception that we have of what it means to be a man, or what it means to be a woman, or the, um, you know, what we're brought up with, you know, men don't cry and all of that, that stuff.
[00:30:14] Marion Ellis: Um, you know, and so there's a lot of, Well, I don't know. Is there judgment we're in a, you know, we're in 2023, you know, we, we do talk a lot more than we, than we ever have done. We've been through a global pandemic together for better or worse, you know? So it's not like it's back in the fifties, you know? Um, and, and so, and I see this actually in a.
[00:30:37] Marion Ellis: It's only in a different way in a lot of my clients where they don't give themselves permission, you know, so they think the way to run a surveying business is set up another mini corporate because that's all they know. And they know that they can do things differently, but they don't give themselves permission to do that or get the right support to do it.
[00:30:56] Marion Ellis: And I don't know how I've made that, made that link, [00:31:00] but it sort of makes me think about, you know, as a, as a man then, you know, the, everything that you're taught and that shapes you as you're, you're growing up, you know, is that, you know, is it that men don't talk and that, you know, you, you go out on the lash every Friday night and, you know, you work hard and all the hours and things, it's sort of quite, quite rigid and structured, but giving ourselves permission to step out from that is okay.
[00:31:26] Ryan Parke: I think it's, it's very important to give yourself permission to be the way you want to be and do what you want to do. I would challenge the common idea though that the reason why men don't talk as much as women do is because of the way that we're brought up. And, and because that's quite controversial, I'll just explain that if that's okay. So in mammals, we're going back to hormones here, but I think it's a really useful way to understand, you know, how it basically how our bodies work. So in mammals, there is a hormone that's associated with being close to other [00:32:00] mammals, and it's called oxytocin. And you'll know about oxytocin, if nothing else, from being a mom, because it's absolutely required for so many things
[00:32:08] Marion Ellis: Yeah. And I remember, but I remember my husband, uh, reading somewhere or I read it and gave it to him, I think. Yeah. And, and it was, um, you know, to, to get the most, uh, oxytocin or to get the most out of a hug, you need to have like six seconds, six second hug. That's what we do as a family now.
[00:32:25] Ryan Parke: So, so oxytocin in female mammals lowers stress. It does not lower stress in male mammals.
[00:32:33] Marion Ellis: Right.
[00:32:34] Ryan Parke: It makes them sleep and it turns them on, but it does not lower stress in male mammals. And we know this from studies on all kinds of different male mammals, like including rats and things like that. So then we come to humans.
[00:32:49] Ryan Parke: In humans, oxytocin is released when we cuddle, when we talk. Even when we have sex, so it's to do with closeness and oxytocin is [00:33:00] often known as the cuddle hormone. And if you're female, oxytocin lowers your stress, which means if you're female, talking, cuddling, lowers your stress, but oxytocin doesn't lower stress in men.
[00:33:14] Ryan Parke: This means if,
[00:33:15] Marion Ellis: what does, so what does,
[00:33:17] Ryan Parke: well, so testosterone lowers stress in men.
[00:33:20] Marion Ellis: right.
[00:33:21] Ryan Parke: In fact, the way that it does that, it basically acts on a man's brain in the same way that
[00:33:26] Marion Ellis: Oh, I see. So yeah, I see. So even then, as we're talking, I think this is why. Uh, it's so important to listen to the podcast, Marion. No, but why is it so important to just get familiar? Because it's the opposite. You know, so you think testosterone fires you up and, you know, makes you aggressive, but actually it's the thing that brings you back to okay as a
[00:33:48] Ryan Parke: Thumbs you down. Yeah. Yeah, and we see that across like so many studies about men is testosterone doesn't make men aggressive. Low testosterone makes men aggressive. Actually, the reason why [00:34:00] injecting too much testosterone into a man's body makes him aggressive is because it, it blocks natural production of testosterone. It's a bit like, you know, from things like conversations about HRT, which is when you start taking something negative feedback loops mean you stop making it. And so, so we have this difference. If something that I come across all the time is it's very natural for women to think when I talk about how I feel, I feel better.
[00:34:28] Ryan Parke: My husband doesn't talk about how he feels. Therefore, naturally he needs to talk about how he feels. That's the solution that cause that's half the world's lived experience. My lived experience as a man is when I have a problem, I don't want to talk about it. I want to fix it. And actually sometimes the most inconvenient thing is when, when my partner's saying, Oh, why don't you tell me about it?
[00:34:48] Ryan Parke: I'm like, if you give me 30 seconds, I'll go and fix it. Does that make sense?
[00:34:52] Marion Ellis: Absolutely. And it's like, it's like we're totally out of sync. And I remember reading some research years ago [00:35:00] that said that, you know, women are wired to tend and befriend. You know, and, you know, that's obviously linked to, to what you're saying and, and yeah, you know, it's just being able to talk about, talk about things, but for men, it's not necessarily.
[00:35:12] Marion Ellis: Um, so you see, so I see a lot of these, um, like campaigns for men and raising awareness and it's all about talking, isn't it? And so, does that have like a negative effect? Then, you know, come, you know, come down to the... The shed or the, whatever it is, the five side football and we'll talk. And the last thing you want to do is talk.
[00:35:36] Marion Ellis: And so there's almost a, you know, for women, it's a, you know, and I see that from, from the women in surveying stuff that I do, you know, it's a drop in, come and have a chat, know about whatever, whereas for men, it's more come and do something and just have some company. And if the conversation comes afterwards, then, then so,
[00:35:52] Ryan Parke: So talking is vital for everyone. But for men talking alone is not sufficient because if you're [00:36:00] female when you talk, then you have this rise in oxytocin, which lowers your stress. Men don't get that. So it's like, why do men talk? Well, men talk because they're trying to find solutions to problems.
[00:36:11] Ryan Parke: Actually, the, the idea that men don't talk is. The more you think about it, it's kind of ridiculous. When you go to a pub on a Friday night, it's full of men talking. You go to, like, five a side football, all they're doing is talking. And even the idea that, in fact, lots of people complain that the men in meetings talk over them.
[00:36:27] Ryan Parke: So actually, when you look outside of... that myth, it's like, Oh, actually, this is definitely not true. And the idea that men don't express emotion, if you go to a football game, you will see you and one team loses badly, you might see 30, 000 men in tears at once. But because they're expressing emotion at a different time to when women do, there's this idea that that's somehow wrong.
[00:36:53] Marion Ellis: yeah.
[00:36:53] Ryan Parke: it's not real emotion. That doesn't count. The talking in the pub doesn't count and that emotion doesn't count. So [00:37:00] what I was, I've got some stats I'm going to share with you, which I find really illuminating. So you mentioned, like, how is the current approach to male mental health? working. So in the last five years, according to a study by the BACP, 79 percent of men agree it's now more acceptable to talk about mental health than it was just five years ago. 68 percent of men agree there's less stigma associated with mental health than there was just five years ago. So I believe they're both steps in the right direction. Between 2010 and 2022, according to the BACP, men in the UK became 50 percent more likely to have attended talking therapy in the last 12 months.
[00:37:45] Ryan Parke: Another step in the right direction. But, while it looks like on the face of things everything's moving in the right direction, the figure that I care about is in the same time that men agree it's more acceptable to talk and that there's less [00:38:00] stigma associated with mental health, and in the same time that men have made the extraordinary change and become 50 percent more likely to attend talking therapy, men in the UK have also become 11 percent more likely to die by suicide.
[00:38:16] Marion Ellis: So as you were talking there, uh, a couple of thoughts. It's almost as though they're, they, or we are doing mental health and not being mentally healthy in that You know, we tick the boxes. Yes, we go to, um, you know, talking therapy, you know, yes, we, we do this, that and the other. It's the, the doing rather than actually the being.
[00:38:42] Marion Ellis: And as you were talking about the, you know, the football scenario, there's, um, an advert that I've seen going around. I think it's yellow and green. Is it Norwich City Football Club? And, you know, there's sort of two characters, um, you know, sort of cheering. One just seems a bit reserved. Um, [00:39:00] and then, you know, one of them, uh, the other one's sort of a bit hyper and I won't spoil it for people, but I'll put a link in the, uh, in the show notes, but it's the one that you don't expect, you know, doesn't, doesn't turn up.
[00:39:10] Marion Ellis: And so I was, I was about to ask you, you know, can you sort of fake it till you make it? Or is there like a, almost like a, can you take your emotion out, uh, and express your emotion at football match? And does that, you know, satisfy that need? You know, your body, you know, to learn how, I suppose it will help you learn how to express yourself with tears or shouting or, or whatever.
[00:39:38] Marion Ellis: Uh, but does that help or is it the, the faking it bit?
[00:39:41] Ryan Parke: that's a really good question. So when I started a few years ago, I was kind of having similar thoughts and lots of people will kind of have the idea that, well, if men can express emotion there, why not there? And actually, the answer to that is something like. Expressing [00:40:00] emotion is a natural thing that we do. It's, it's not an instruction that men don't talk about their feelings. It's more an observation that men don't tend to talk about their feelings. Because talking about their feelings, bear in mind we have this, we have information that tells us that oxytocin doesn't lower stress in men. Crying releases oxytocin.
[00:40:20] Ryan Parke: So to encourage men to cry is to, we're trying to get to the point where oxytocin's released. But we know oxytocin doesn't lower stress in men. So then the question then is, Rather than trying to get men to act more like women in a sort of archetypal way, what does help men? And there's lots of information on this.
[00:40:39] Ryan Parke: So Transcribed by https: otter. ai Um, one of my favorite, most useful studies is just a couple of years ago, 2021, there was a study in America where they approached survivors of suicide and they asked what was the most effective strategy, what helps you go from the point where you didn't want to live to the point where you [00:41:00] want to live and you're now happy and healthy.
[00:41:02] Ryan Parke: And they found that there was some crossover, but generally there was different strategies that had helped men and women. For women, the most effective strategy was what the study referred to as a psycho educational approach in a group setting with other women, which like, I didn't know what that meant, but that basically means learning about and understanding and expressing your emotion.
[00:41:26] Ryan Parke: And the,
[00:41:26] Marion Ellis: that's what, yeah. And that's why for women, you know, we talk about mentoring circles or getting groups of women together. It comes back to that, um, tend and befriend, uh, piece for sure. Yeah.
[00:41:37] Ryan Parke: Absolutely. And, and the group being in a group of other women is significant. 'cause actually the female mental health is about emotions. And the best thing for female mental health is to express your emotions and to have other people essentially confirm that those emotions are completely valid. So like I know when Emma, my wife, yeah, I get to say
[00:41:59] Marion Ellis: [00:42:00] Yay. Just married. Yay.
[00:42:01] Ryan Parke: Thank you. So when Emma has a bad day at work, I know the best thing I can do is shut my mouth. Well, first ask her how her day was and then shut my mouth. And, and just the process of talking about it is really beneficial for her. And at the end of that, I just say, I can see why you feel that way.
[00:42:21] Ryan Parke: And it took me 32 years to learn that Marion, because my lived experiences, it doesn't help talking about it. I want to fix the problem. And it's been found that men talk, but they talk to people who they trust, respect, and believe who can offer a solution. Which is probably why in coaching you'll find that there isn't that much of a problem getting men to talk because if people, if men trust you and respect you.
[00:42:47] Ryan Parke: and believe you offer a solution, then often they will lay their cards on the table and say, this is what I've got. So we, we also know that that is the traditional approach to mental health is you want to encourage people [00:43:00] to open up and you want to get them to express themselves. And then you want other people to tell them that that's completely valid.
[00:43:06] Ryan Parke: So then what did the study find works for men? Well, that wasn't the most effective approach for men. And bear in mind, this is a study of men who have overcome thoughts about suicide. We can learn a lot from them. The most effective thing for men, the study found, was to focus on making changes in life towards becoming their ideal self.
[00:43:28] Ryan Parke: So, while female mental health is about emotions, male mental health is about feeling capable. It's about knowing who you want to be and feeling progress towards being that. That I believe is the biggest misunderstanding in mental health at the moment when it comes to men. I know it's generalizing of me to say there's a male and a female approach, but it's actually less generalized than the current approach to mental health, which suggests that everyone's the same and doesn't see biology as playing [00:44:00] any part.
[00:44:01] Ryan Parke: What we've learned over the last couple of hundred years is every single part of our body. reacts differently to hormones depending on whether we're male or female. So the idea that our brain doesn't is not very scientific at all.
[00:44:15] Marion Ellis: That's really interesting. And so I'm thinking about, so the clients that I work with, as I said, I, I started out. As a learning about women, coaching women, it's now evolved into, um, I mean, you know, actually what's quite nice is on my current mastermind, it's a half and half 50 percent men, women, which is amazing.
[00:44:36] Marion Ellis: Um, and you know, when I, when I coach and talk to people, yeah, I always, I always start by saying you have got all the jigsaw puzzle pieces. You've got everything you need, we're just shifting it out. But what does this picture look like? If you, if you, you know, you haven't got that, that box with the picture, you don't know what that looks like.
[00:44:57] Marion Ellis: You know, so people talk about having, you know, a vision and a mission and [00:45:00] all of those things. But sometimes you just don't know yet what it looks like, but you start by putting the jigsaw pieces together that work, that fit. So if it's. A bit of work life balance, if it's a bit of shifting, you know, the type of work that you do saying no rather than yes, you know, even the, the, the small things start to put together and, and then you start to see what the picture is and move forward.
[00:45:22] Marion Ellis: Um, and I, uh, and I, I see that, see that a lot. And then the, the other side of it is, is actually knowing yourself better. You know, we have such. It's weird as a professional surveyors. We are so diverse, there are no two surveyors who are the same, and yet we have such a strong identity of what it means to be a surveyor, and all the judgment around that and the expectations that we put on ourselves.
[00:45:50] Marion Ellis: You know, that we don't give ourselves permission to be surveyors that we, that we, we could be and want to be in. And our strength is absolutely our [00:46:00] diversity. It is the fact that we're different, but rather than explaining to everybody, you know, how we're different from someone else. We just need to own it.
[00:46:07] Marion Ellis: And it's that being not doing, you know, it's being the surveyor. the business owner, and this is what I do, and this is how I work, and these are my boundaries and things, and not sort of doing what you think should be done and getting onto that, onto that treadmill, isn't it? Can I ask you about, um, coaching yourself?
[00:46:25] Marion Ellis: So I trained What got me into, to, uh, to coaching was I did this, um, women in surveying virtual summit about five or six years ago, where I thought I would interview some women about their careers as part of a project that I was doing while I was on, on garden leave at the time. And I thought I'd, you know, ask a few people and, you know, tick the box.
[00:46:47] Marion Ellis: If you like, never done anything like that before. And it was great. I had loads of interviews. It went out. And when you become, um, the go to person, you [00:47:00] then have to deal with people's... worry beads, their challenges, the things that they come to you for. And I always say, you know, I'm happy to help. And I will signpost where I can, because even that in itself is powerful.
[00:47:11] Marion Ellis: Just knowing that there are people out there that can help you if you so choose is that that ripple effect. But I found the, you know, um, women would come to me. You know, literally fearful of being raped while on building sites, um, really, really struggling with their mental health, um, uh, depression, uh, navigating the baby years, bully bosses, you name it, everything.
[00:47:37] Marion Ellis: And I learned to be a coach in part to help. And I wasn't going to be a coach, but I got, I got trained to it in part to help them, but also to protect myself. Because when you just want to go in and help somebody and, you know, being now I know being neurodiverse, that's my thing of going in and trying to save the day because, you know, I can.
[00:47:58] Marion Ellis: Um, and so it's having those, [00:48:00] those boundaries and, you know, you were saying earlier on about working in sales and you would recruit people and coach and support them. And I see a lot of surveyors who get into that sort of mentoring role as maybe sort of APC counselors to help people get qualified. Um, or they find themselves being a team leader or a regional manager or something, and they've never really had that training to manage on one side.
[00:48:24] Marion Ellis: Um, but then also then the, the personal side of, of coach, of coaching, um, how has your experience been, or how do you.
[00:48:38] Ryan Parke: think that coaching is one of the things that made the biggest difference to my life, as in being coached. Um, one of the, probably the biggest lesson that I learned from my twenties at work, the biggest work related lesson that I learned was, there was a point where I'd always been one of the top sales people at the [00:49:00] jobs that I'd worked.
[00:49:00] Ryan Parke: And then everywhere I went, they started trying to... Pigeonhole me into being a manager. And I found that I was a really good salesperson and a really terrible manager. And then it got to the point where I couldn't escape anymore. I had to be a manager and actually about five years into being a manager, I, I kind of realized something which was really useful for me, which was, I had always believed that the reason why I was a good sales person was because of the way that I had done things. And so I wanted everyone to do everything my way. And then about five years into being a manager, I realized that actually the reason I'd been a good sales person isn't because of the way I did things, it's because I had always been allowed to do things my way. And so I decided to let go and let everyone in my team start doing things their way.
[00:49:50] Ryan Parke: And that's when I really moved from being a manager actually to being a coach. Because the way that I often explain it is a good mentor answers your questions. It's someone who's been there, they've done that, [00:50:00] and, and they've got a rough idea of what you should do, but that's not the role of a coach, I don't believe.
[00:50:04] Ryan Parke: I believe that the role of a coach is to encourage you to ask better questions of yourself. And sometimes it can be like, um, you know, it... You're not a driving instructor. You don't have to know how to do everything. You sometimes just the act of being with people and asking them questions helps them to reframe and solve all their own problems.
[00:50:26] Ryan Parke: And you, you probably see that all the time, Marion, like when I started in coaching, it used to take like 12 weeks for people that I worked with for men that I worked with to transform their life and solve problems. And then over the time I got more experienced, I noticed that the transformations went from taking weeks to a week.
[00:50:45] Ryan Parke: And then from taking a week to a single coaching session, and then sometimes you're 15 minutes into coaching session and people say, I know I need to do thank you. And, and you've probably seen that yourself and I think what happens as a coach is you, [00:51:00] you learn so much more about people, and you just help them find what is great by helping them find their own solutions.
[00:51:08] Ryan Parke: And so there's a nice distance in being a coach. I think that it's a methodology and a practice that is really Sometimes undervalued and underrecognized and when lots of successful or happy people are asked what made the difference, they will often say it was this coach or these coaches that I worked with.
[00:51:25] Marion Ellis: And sometimes life coaching gets sort of a, a bit of a wrap of being a fad, but it comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes and different contexts, you know, you're, you're looking at male mental health. I'm looking at specifically at surveyors, um, you know, and you know, as you're saying that it's, and I've had exactly the same, you know, 15 minutes into a call and people know what they need to do.
[00:51:48] Marion Ellis: You know, they might call me saying, well, you know, I want to be part of the mastermind or I need to do something, or I'm just having a chat helps. You know, they, they know the, it comes back to that permission [00:52:00] thing, I suppose, but just having the, the chat and airing something helps and people know if they're right to, to work with you and, you know, it's the next steps and there's never any pressure for that.
[00:52:10] Marion Ellis: But, you know, if I can spend 15 minutes talking to somebody, not that I've got any miracle questions, you know, it's, it's more the, how they show up, you know, and what they expect. What sometimes it's just that validation that, you know, is also like, is this okay for me to work for myself? Is this the right time?
[00:52:32] Marion Ellis: Um, and when it does get draining for me, and you learn this as a, as a coach, as you, as you go on, it's when it's not the right fit, you know, and, and I think that's the same for those that are doing the, um, APC counseling and mentoring and all of those things. If it's hard and you're not enjoying it. It is the wrong fit.
[00:52:52] Marion Ellis: And, and that's, you know, uh, you know, I, I tend to talk about life friendly, meaningful businesses, people who've worked for a [00:53:00] couple of years. Um, as you know, as a surveyor, doesn't mean I don't work with other people, but if it's all about money and it's all about how much you can maximize your day in managing other people, I'm not interested.
[00:53:12] Marion Ellis: There are other people who can help you with that for sure. You know, and, and me learning to say no to that as means I get more of the Right, right. Clients and people to, to work with and, you know, and, and that's the same as any sort of, I suppose, ideal client, uh, client piece. Um, Ryan, it's been fabulous to talk to you today.
[00:53:30] Marion Ellis: I hope people listening to this have found it really helpful. Can we add all of the links of, you've mentioned all sorts of different things, um, uh, bits and pieces. We'll put them in the, the show notes so people can have a, have a read up and, and how can they contact you or find out more about what you're up to?
[00:53:47] Ryan Parke: if any of what we've spoken about today has resonated with you, or if there's a man in your life that you think would benefit from having this kind of open conversation, then the best thing that you can do is reach out to [00:54:00] me through my website, which is themenscoach. co. uk. I, my mission is to share the science of male mental health in talks, in workshops, and on my coaching program so that you never lose any of the men that you care about to suicide.
[00:54:16] Marion Ellis: Lovely. Thank you ever so much.
[00:54:18] Ryan Parke: Thanks, Marion.
[00:54:20] Marion Ellis: Thanks for listening. If you are new to the podcast, do check out some of our past recordings and when you're ready, leave us a review on Google or Apple iTunes or you can buy me a coffee. All the links are in the show notes. I'll see you next time.