Featured Self Care

Decompression Zones: What Music Festivals Really Need

A targeted approach to decompression zones may help attendees with post-festival recovery

Mud, grime, rain, and slime may be pretty consistent with every festival-goer’s experience. And the physical or spatial anxieties of attending a weekend-long music festival in the countryside are by no means trifling. The sleeplessness, the noise, hygiene (or lack of it), and the sensory overload, none of it is easy. Any seasoned festival-goer will tell you they’ve had moments when they’ve questioned their commitment to an erratic festival itinerary or to $30 fries. And, it’s worth noting how physical discomfort or inconvenience bleeds into the overall experience of attending a music festival. So, when it comes to dedicated decompression zones or chill-out spots that are designed to help attendees de-compress or relax, certain parameters are of utmost significance.

Mental health first aiders are usually trained to look for signs of stress, anxiety and panic attacks, and provide immediate psychological care. However, music festivals can also make an effort to help alleviate the physical constraints of a frantic weekend. But, do all music festivals need spaces for attendees looking to wean themselves away from the visual or auditory overload? In a way, yes. 

decompression zones at festivals
© Instagram – Creamfields South

It boils down to what makes a festival experience ‘worth it.’ Is it the music, the camaraderie, the lack of routine and the sense of being a part of something relevant for a weekend? Or, is it something more elementary, like being away from home for a weekend and not having to think about rent or inflation for 48 hours? While the answer may vary on who you ask, assistance with mental flare-ups is a necessity for all. This calls for physical spaces and set-ups that can act not just as a retreat but also as a sort of therapy – one that also helps in the transition to post-festival recovery.

The priorities

Attention to substance usage and a realistic approach to the psychedelic experience is a must-have for the post-pandemic festival circuit. One organization working to tackle this issue is The Loop, a UK-based non-profit NGO promoting harm reduction and wellbeing through drug checking, especially at festival sites. One of their main priorities is to educate festival-goers about the importance of the set and setting.

“When someone decides to take psychoactive drugs, they are taking something which has the potential to change their perceptions, feelings and thought patterns. How this shift in conscious experience unfolds is still influenced by other factors,” their website points out.

decompression zones at festivals
© Instagram – Shambhala Music Festival

“If you’re too cold – or too hot – when taking drugs you’re more likely to have a bad time. The weather can also increase your risk of coming to serious harm. Hot weather increases the chance of you getting too hot on MDMA and suffering hyperthermia, which can be fatal. If it’s very cold you can pass out on drugs like alcohol and GHB and suffer hypothermia,” it adds. 

PsyCare is another such organization run by harm reduction specialists that works towards protecting the mental and physical health of festival attendees (they’ve worked with festivals like Sofft Nights and Another Love Story). But, besides crisis management and psychedelic first aid, health services at music festivals can also provide decompression zones equipped to help attendees with post-festival recovery.

Down to brass tacks

For attendees in their 30s or 40s, a music festival is a gruelling affair. According to American Addiction Centers, fifty-seven% of people attending live music events admitted to using alcohol or drugs, with more than 93% consuming alcohol. It’s important for all attendees (especially older ones) to stay hydrated, flush out toxins and also work towards reducing inflammation and soreness. Returning to work after a three-day stint of sleeping in cramped positions and relying on beer and chilli cheese fries for sustenance is truly hard, and no number of Instagram reels can make you feel better. Unless of course, your post-festival recovery begins from the site itself.

Grounding, DIY activities, decompression zones, and attention to some basic endurance-building workouts can truly help festival-goers maintain their stamina and also recuperate quicker post an unpredictable weekend. Immersive indoor experiences are a great way to help attendees cope with the rigours of a strenuous weekend. 

©Instagram - Magnetic Fields Festival
©Instagram – Magnetic Fields Festival

Massages and some basic sleep care units are also great ideas and can help attendees cope with a demanding festival itinerary. The idea is to help attendees get back to their lives as painlessly and quickly as possible. Educating attendees on natural supplements and helping them balance their serotonin levels after the festival can go a long way in post-festival care. 

Certain foods can also help festival-goers replace the serotonin levels in their brains, which can help regulate their mental health the morning after the festival (pairing high-tryptophan foods like turkey, chicken, milk and tuna with high-carbohydrate foods can spike your insulin levels and move a greater amount of the tryptophan to the brain, producing more serotonin). 

At their core, festivals need to graduate to a more intelligent design – a more resourceful, informed, and helpful model that can offer leisure and care to a broader demographic without them having to resort to luxury experiences or premium services.  

Art + Culture Featured

Self-Help Books for Young People Struggling With Their Mental Health

Need a hand with your mental health? There are lots of self-help books out there that may hit the spot! Here are a few to get you started…

It’s no secret that young people are facing a mental health epidemic. COVID-19, crumbling political systems, environmental catastrophes and the rise of social media are all contributing to a profound impact on people’s mental well-being. And the statistics are alarming! As a result, many young people are looking toward alternative methods of therapy, that are often cheaper and easier to access – such as self-help books. Here is a list of self-help books that are easily digestible for someone with little prior knowledge. 

Some other honourable mentions (Hello Giggles)

According to Young Minds, one in six children aged 5 to 16 has reported having mental health issues. What’s more shocking is that from 2018 to 2019 – so before the pandemic – 24% of 17-year-olds have self-harmed in the past year, with 7% having self-harmed with the intent of suicide. With an underfunded NHS, and a lack of mental health support in schools, colleges and universities, they have been left alone to deal with their issues. So, it’s no wonder self-help books are becoming so popular.

An Untehtherd Soul 

The Unethered Soul
The Unethered Soul Book Cover (Blue Mind Sky)

Don’t be put off by the outrageously kitsch front cover, this book is pretty much one of the most well-known books for those seeking a more spiritual way out of a hard place. The author, Michael Singer, has decided to interpret eastern spiritual philosophies into a more digestible read for western audiences. The book starts with the basics and gradually gets into more depth. It is a clear description of how the mind works, and how past traumas can program the mind into a negative set of patterns. It also offers a set of simple instructions on how to clear the blockages and open your mind, body and soul to a more joyful way of life. This book will equip you with everything you need to know to begin your mind-altering journey. 

The Power of Now 

Self-Help Books
Tolle with Oprah (Rotten Tomatos)

The Power of Now is probably one of the most well-known and successful self-help books of all time. Since being published in 1997, it has sold over 3 million copies in the US alone, and has been translated into 33 different languages – it is even a firm favourite of Oprah Winfrey. And, there’s a reason for this success, as it has changed the lives of millions of people. In a nutshell, the book is a journey into living in the present moment. Eckhart Tolle, the author, tells the reader how living in the now is the gateway to a happy life. When you look at the past, you get depressed, when you look at the future, you get anxious. Life only happens in the present moment, and if you want to escape suffering, then you must aim to live in the narrow window of the now. It’s one of the easiest things to do to change your life, but also the hardest. But, Tolle has a clear set of instructions based on his own hardships, and after a few chapters, you already notice a profound shift in your psyche. If you make it past the hippy-dippy first chapter, then you’re in for a life-changing experience!

The Chimp Paradox

Self-Help Books
The Chimp Paradox (Tandem Financial)

The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness – is the full title. And, the long title is necessary because it actually helps you achieve all these things. The book uses the metaphor of your inner chimp – that everyone has – which is basically your inner wild self who is chaotic and uncontrolled. Via mind management techniques, it helps you tame your inner wild and control your emotions. It does this by following a three-step process: first, recognise how your mind is working; then, understand your emotions and thoughts, and finally, it teaches you how to manage yourself and become a better person. This book is particularly good for those who have ADHD tendencies. 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Self-Help Books
Book Cover (Medium)

This number 1 New York Times best-seller, written by Mark Manson, has sold over 10 million copies, in just 6 years. The immense appeal of this self-help book is the blunt approach to therapy, which has a heavy dose of humour. It teaches the reader how to cut through the crap, and “show us how to stop trying to be ‘positive’ all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.” The important premise of the book is that it teaches you what to care about and what to not care about, and how happiness, resilience, and freedom come from being aware of the rubbish that surrounds you. 

Community Featured

MONKEYPOX: Avoiding Homophobia in Reporting

The conservative campaign against LGBTQ+ rights has found a new fixation: Monkeypox

During the late Spring of 2022, the Monkeypox virus, one that causes painful lesions all over the body as well as potentially dangerous fever, began its steady increase. Whilst not notably fateful, apart from for individuals with a compromised immune system, Monkeypox cases have risen in the aftermath of COVID, causing fear and panic amongst the global population. It is important to note, however, that Monkeypox has not reached a pandemic status, but has been declared a health emergency on an international level. The rising cases are a result of easy transfer, with individuals being able to contract the virus through skin-to-skin contact (including and especially all sexual activities, genital contact included), face-to-face contact, mouth-to-skin contact and finally, mouth-to-mouth contact. 

There is, unfortunately, some controversy surrounding the transfer of the virus. Early into the outbreak, the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) stated that those who self-identify as “men who have sex with men” should be wary of contracting the virus, but stress that “anyone, regardless of sexual orientation” could spread and/or contract the disease. Thus, leaving the question, should public messaging highlight the fact that monkeypox is primarily affecting men who have sex with men?

The question is born out of the inappropriate and aggressive stigmatisation of monkeypox – reminiscent of the homophobic response to HIV/Aids in the 1980s. This then “poses a challenge to public health advocates and community leaders trying to have honest conversations about the disease and who are currently at most risk during this part of the outbreak.” It seems as though the challenge has already begun, with conservative commentators openly mocking monkeypox victims in the media, the majority of whom they are targeting being men who have sex with men, whilst blaming them for contracting the disease. 

For example, American commentator Matt Walsh spoke out, stating, “Still waiting for gay men who are having random sex with strangers during Monkeypox outbreak to get lectured and scolded by public health authorities the way the rest of us did for going to grocery stores and restaurants during COVID.” This, of course, is incomparable with gay men being stigmatised and singled out for a disease that does not exclusively affect their sphere of the community and can just as easily be picked up through face-to-face contact by heterosexual individuals, including Walsh himself. 

Monkeypox Vaccine
Monkeypox Vaccine © Getty Images

However, this does not, therefore, override the fact that Monkeypox is currently disproportionately affecting men who have sex with men: simply, there is a higher risk of contraction for gay men at this moment in time. And, to reduce stigmatisation and/or homophobia whilst still alerting gay men to the growing number of cases amongst them, the CDC appointed Dr Demetre Daslakis, a gay man and renowned Aids activist as the deputy coordinator of its national Monkeypox response. Following this, the agency then published guidelines for preventing Monkeypox through safer sex that included an illustration of two men in bed together, consequently highlighting that these individuals should be particularly cautious. Additionally, the article highlighted to the general public that people should limit their number of sexual partners whilst Monkeypox is an international concern, avoid anonymous hook-ups and wash fetish gear and sex toys regularly. 

Some individuals, such as AIDS activist and gay man Mark. S. King, believe that cautioning gay men against the threat of Monkeypox is a positive thing, stating, “Fast Forward to 2022 [In comparison to the lack of information spread in the 1980s regarding the danger of HIV], where we are at least getting all of this great, explicit information out about Monkeypox so that gay men can protect themselves. I consider that progress.” However, not everyone in the queer community agrees on how to talk about the outbreak. For example, prominent rights group Glaad has expressed concern at framing monkeypox as a disease that primarily affects men who have sex with men in guidance issued to the media. They believe that framing monkeypox as a disease within the gay community will discourage other people from educating themselves on prevention:

“If history has shown us anything, it would show us that a communicable disease like this doesn’t stay within one community. Stigma drives fear, and fear then becomes resistance to public health and stopping the spread of the disease,” said Glaad in a statement. 

Therefore, it appears to be an issue about whether and how to discuss if gay men should alter their sexual behaviours during the outbreak, and if it is necessary to place emphasis on warning this sphere of the community. Suggesting that gay men change their sexual behaviour despite “all of the ways that it could be spread” (for example, if you kiss someone who has an active case of Monkeypox), seems almost like an attack, rather than a helping hand. But, it is a nuanced and complex discussion because, as King puts it, “We’ve learned through the last 40 years of HIV that moral judgements only help HIV. Moral judgements shame the people who are most at risk, which leads to people going underground, not admitting what their behaviours are, and not wanting to talk about the risks.”


Featured Self Care

Tom Holland Announces Social Media Break to Protect Mental Health

MCU’s Spiderman, Tom Holland, is taking a step away from social media

Fans and followers of Tom Holland (26), the “Spider-Man: No Way Home” star, have noticed he’s been absent from social media in recent weeks. Turns out, he had deleted both Instagram and Twitter from his devices. He downloaded Instagram on Sunday to announce what was going on in his life in a three-minute video. Tom Holland has 67.7 million followers as of writing.

Holland stated that social media apps have become harmful to his mental state and that he spirals when he reads things about himself online, “I have taken a break from social media for my mental health because I find Instagram and Twitter to be overstimulating and overwhelming.” He mentioned how he had spent probably thirteen or fourteen years acting, and the exposure has certainly affected his mental health for the worse.

Many celebrities and influencers commented on the post, with even Justin Bieber commenting “I love you, man” and a heart emoji. The Brothers Trust, the charity set up by Nikki and Dom Holland, parents to Tom and his three brothers, also shared the video on their Instagram account.

Tom Holland and Zendaya
Tom Holland and Zendaya © Getty Images

Stem4 advertises itself as a teenage mental health charity, and they have four apps: @calmharmapp, @appmovemood, @clearfearapp, and @combmindsapp, which can be downloaded for free. 

The video had several million likes and Holland took the opportunity to promote Stem4, a charity that supports positive mental health in teenagers through its four different apps. He had personally used all of them and noticed improvements in his mental health.

He also mentioned that stigma on mental health had taken a toll on his pursuit of happiness and that while he’s aware that asking for help and seeking help isn’t something we should be ashamed of, it’s still easier said than done.

Holland stated that he’d disappear once more and also thanked his fans for their love and support. The video is nearly a week old, and it’s unclear when Holland will delete his social media accounts again or if he backed out from the idea. There’s a possibility that the Spiderman actor is just waiting for more people to watch the video before making good on his promise.

Other celebrities near his age group have taken similar measures in the past years, including Selena Gómez, Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello, and more, making their mental and physical health a priority over their careers.

Community Featured

HIV 40 Years Onwards: Have we found the cure?

A 5th Patient is ‘cured’ of HIV

During the Summer of 2022, an American man (who chose to remain anonymous) was publicly declared to be the 5th and oldest ever patient at 66 to be ‘cured’ of HIV after he was given a bone marrow transplant to treat leukaemia, a cancer of the blood. It is believed that the bone marrow donor was naturally resistant to the virus, having a mutation in their CCR5 protein that meant the virus could no longer enter the patient’s white blood cells. 

Following said treatment, the patient has since stopped taking antiretroviral medication that he had been consuming for decades and has now been in remission from HIV for 17 months. The man highlighted that he was “beyond grateful” that the virus was no longer present in his body, stating that: “When I was diagnosed with HIV in 1988, like many others, I thought it was a death sentence. I never thought I would live to see the day that I no longer have HIV”.

HIV Cure Getty Images
HIV Cure © Getty Images

As mentioned above, the man became the fifth ever patient to have HIV become undetectable in their body following a diagnosis many years ago. The first, Timothy Ray Brown, was treated and ‘cured’ in Berlin. Whilst the second patient came later and in London, the third was declared merely days after the second. And, in a further breakthrough, the fourth patient is believed to be the first-ever woman to be cured of the virus. 

Clearly, headway is being made regarding finding a cure for HIV-positive patients, which is not only a big step for medicine and healthcare across the globe, but for the LGBTQ+ community who have continuously faced discrimination at the hands of the association with the supposedly ‘uncurable’ and deadly virus. 

Community Featured

Depression is not Caused by Chemical Imbalance says Study

The study into serotonin disproves a theory believed for decades.

It is estimated that 8.3 million people in the UK alone take antidepressants daily. Citalopram, escitalopram and sertraline are some of the few drugs that are given to patients that are struggling with anxiety and depression. But, a new study has changed the way we see depression and its treatment, as it is revealed that a chemical imbalance or low serotonin levels are not the root causes. This scientific finding has opened a pandora’s box of potential for future treatment plans.

Antidepressants (The Independent)

The study, by scientists at the University College London, found no link between chemical imbalance and depression. Although this news will change the way we see antidepressants, doctors up and down the country are urging people not to stop taking the pills as the medication is still an effective treatment plan for those struggling with their mental health.

The lead professor of the study, Joanna Moncrieff, commented on the findings: “It is always difficult to prove a negative, but I think we can safely say that after a vast amount of research conducted over several decades, there is no convincing evidence that depression is caused by serotonin abnormalities, particularly by lower levels or reduced activity of serotonin.” The consultant psychologist then hints at her concern at the exponential increase in prescriptions by doctors in recent years: “The popularity of the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory of depression has coincided with a huge increase in the use of antidepressants.” She continued: “Thousands of people suffer from side-effects of antidepressants, including the severe withdrawal effects that can occur when people try to stop them, yet prescription rates continue to rise.”

Joanna Moncrieff disproves link between chemical imbalances and depression
UCL’s study lead, Joanna Moncrieff (Daily Mail)

It wasn’t until the 1990’s that SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) began to take hold of the general population. In just 30-plus years, 1 in 6 people in the UK is taking medication for depression. Since the discovery of the drugs, there has been a narrative pushed that a chemical imbalance is the cause and these pills are the solution. However, many doctors and psychiatrists have been arguing that this has been false. Finally, there is a comprehensive study to validate their doubts. Although this is a major breakthrough, it doesn’t necessarily offer any solutions or explanations as to what the cause of people’s depression is. But, it does mean that research into other avenues can now be explored more thoroughly.

Antidepressant side effects when treating depression
Potential side effects of SSRIs (Very Well Mind)

85-90% of the public are under the impression that a chemical imbalance causes depression, which has impacted people in a variety of different ways. “All I know is getting on an SSRI changed my life for the better,” said one Facebook user. “[Antidepressants] gave me a quality of life I’ve never imagined. It helped resolve some of the issues that led me into addiction,” they continued. Whilst it is exciting to imagine future treatments for depression, it is important to remember that SSRIs are an effective treatment plan for many people. And, stopping cold turkey can have damaging consequences. “It is high time to inform the public that this belief is not grounded in science,” said UCL’s Joanna Moncrieff.

Community Featured

Abortion Messages Turned Over to Cops in a case Against 17-year-old

At home abortion leaked via Facebook messages

Nebraska mother, Jessica Burgess (41) and her teenage daughter Celeste Burgess (17) face criminal charges after information about the teenager’s abortion was leaked by Facebook’s parent company Meta to the police through a search warrant.

The Norfolk Police Department received a tip claiming that Celeste miscarried and buried the fetus with her mother’s help. 

The police had search warrants to get their hands on her medical records, which proved that she was 23 weeks pregnant at the time. The mother had gotten abortion pills for her daughter. 

On top of that, Jessica was charged with two additional felonies: performing or attempting an abortion on pregnancy at more than 20 weeks and performing an abortion as a non-licensed doctor. Nebraska law prohibits abortion after 20 weeks.

Supposedly, when the police interviewed Celeste, she claimed she had unexpectedly birthed her stillborn baby in the shower. This prompted her to put the baby’s body in a bag and bury it with the help of a third party, an unidentified man who pleaded no contest to a misdemeanour.

The police assumed that she had lied and that’s why they got the warrant for her Facebook messages, showing that her mother talked her through a self-induced abortion. In this case, Celeste is being tried as an adult. Both mother and daughter pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Roe V. Wade abortion protest
Roe V. Wade abortion protest © Alex Brandon

Facebook defended itself by stating that the warrants they got from the criminal investigation pertained to the case of a stillborn baby being burned and buried, not a decision to have an abortion. 

Ironic, given how earlier this year, Meta announced it would offer reimbursements to employees who had to travel out of state to seek reproductive care after the Roe v. Wade turnover.

This case is notorious because it is the first known instance of a person’s Facebook messages being used as proof to incriminate them in a state where abortion is restricted. 

Others mentioned how it’s time to start using Signal with timed messages and raised concerns on the usage of period trackers as their data could be requested as well. 

Social media users have reacted with horror at the situation, mentioning how technically nobody is safe now and everyone’s privacy is at risk. Two women might lose their freedom due to the conflict regarding reproductive rights and an invasion of privacy.

There’s an emphasis that communication needs to be end-to-end encrypted, and the end user should also be using Signal or end-to-end encryption software.


Featured LGBTQ Self Care

Five People Have Now Been Cured of HIV

Six people are also in long-term remission from HIV

New cases of people cured of HIV were recently presented at the International Aids Conference in Montreal. This is the world’s largest conference on HIV and AIDs and is hosted in Montreal from 29 July to 2 August. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down many global movements, including efforts to tackle HIV. The current conference will allow researchers to realign their efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS worldwide and share other important breakthroughs on the matter.

Some pre-conference meetings also took place in the days prior to the main event. In these pre-conference meetings, cases of patients cured of HIV were presented. Scientists reported that a 66-year-old American man with HIV was cured of the virus through a stem cell transplant to treat blood cancer. 

The first person to be cured of HIV/AIDS was the late Timothy Ray Brown, once called “The Berlin Patient” when his cure was announced, to preserve his anonymity. He announced his name and image to the public in 2010.

This patient is known as the ‘City of Hope’ patient, as he was treated in the U.S City of Hope facility in California, also to preserve his anonymity. He was diagnosed in 1988 and described the virus as a death sentence, one that also took the life of many of his friends. He has been on antiretroviral therapy (ART) to control the virus for nearly half his life. However, he stopped his ART in March 2021 and entered remission from both HIV and leukaemia.  

The Berlin patient
The Berlin Patient © Getty Images

While it might seem nearly miraculous, truthfully, it’s highly unethical to even attempt to cure the virus through a stem cell transplant. The treatment is potentially fatal, toxic, and should only be attempted if the patient is already facing potentially fatal blood cancer. In short, if they are not facing certain death from their own health conditions, they shouldn’t risk fatal consequences from a stem cell transplant.

Another group of Spanish researchers presented the case of a 59-year-old woman who’s part of a rare group of patients known as ‘post-treatment controllers. These ‘post-treatment controllers’ can keep an undetectable viral load even after stopping ART. In these cases, the patient still harbors viable HIV, but their immune system will prevent further replication for 15 years, possibly more.

And, while the 59-year-old woman remains transmissible, not everyone from the study saw the same results. So, far more research is necessary to determine why therapy worked effectively for one woman, but failed in the other participants of the clinical trial.

Despite the promising insight these cured cases can offer into the treatment of HIV, it’s also important to note that there have been other cases of researchers attempting to cure HIV using stem cell transplants that have failed. 

Community Featured

Paddy Pimblett: A Powerful Message From the Most Unlikely of Places

UFC’s Paddy Pimblett Shares Poignant Message on Mental Health Following Friends’ Suicide

Over the weekend, all eyes were on UFC’s Paddy Pimblett as he fights his way to victory against component Jordan Leavitt. But, it wasn’t the vicious chokeholds or the shin-slamming kicks that got everyone talking, rather, it was Paddy’s frank post-fight interview discussing mental health.

Paddy Pimblett
Paddy Pimblett (Daily Mail)

The day before the fight, Paddy woke up at 4:00 am to find a text message on his phone. To his disbelief, the text shared the news of his friend’s suicide. The text turned Paddy’s world upside down, and he wasn’t sure that he could continue with the fight the following day. Paddy decided to temporarily park his emotions so that he could attend the pre-fight weigh-in. “I just had to do it, I had to stay strong for myself – just everyone around me,” said the Liverpudlian, nicknamed ‘The Baddy’. Paddy then found out that he needed to lose more weight before the fight. The whole time, the grief weighed heavy: “I still had to go and do another two pounds and I thought ‘what am I doing here? Why am I even doing this?”

After the fight in London was over, a distraught Paddy decided to dedicate his victory interview to his late friend, who sadly lost his life to suicide. “There’s a stigma in this world that men can’t talk. Listen, if you’re a man and you’ve got a weight on your shoulders and you think the only way you can solve it is by killing yourself, please speak to someone. Speak to anyone,” he said, speaking from the heart. “People would rather, I know I’d rather, have their mate cry on their shoulder than go to their funeral. So please, let’s get rid of this stigma and men start talking.”

Just hours after the interview aired, Paddy went from a relatively unknown sports personality to the nation’s number one topic of conversation. Clips of his interview were shared throughout social media, alongside powerful messages on ending mental health stigma. “It’s brilliant to see sportsmen like Paddy Pimblett using their platform to spread awareness about mental health,” says one Twitter User. “A breath of fresh air,” said another astonished viewer, who didn’t expect a UFC fighter to open up so publicly.

Paddy Pimblett Fight
Paddy in the ring (MMA)

Paddy’s honest and heartfelt interview on live TV was one of the most powerful moments in sport. People in all kinds of sports are expected to hide their emotions, but with UFC, being tough is part of the act. Paddy’s emotive words cut through to thousands of guarded men, who think that talking about mental health is a sign of weakness. Paddy proves that it takes strength to cry and it takes courage to be open. This is a landmark moment for men’s mental health and male suicide. There is a long way to go, but Paddy’s bravery has sparked a much-needed conversation in a closed-off demographic.

Community Featured

Monkeypox is Declared a Global Emergency by WHO

Monkeypox: Is there another pandemic on the horizon?

Since the first case of Monekeypox in the UK, on 6th May, many have been watching closely to see if it will escalate into another full-blown pandemic. Although Monkeypox hasn’t exponentially spread like Coronavirus did, back in March 2020, there has been a steady increase of cases, which has now succeeded 16,000. Finally, the World Health Organization has decided to take further action, declaring the disease as a global health emergency – the highest possible alert.

Vaccine (WNews)

This week the WHO met for a second time to discuss the international response to the virus. The director general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reported that 16,000 cases have been found in 75 different countries. The geographic spread of the virus confirms that it is not contained within its Central and West African origins and that further spread is inevitable. “The WHO’s assessment is that the risk of monkeypox is moderate globally and in all regions, except in the European region, where we assess the risk as high,” said Dr. Tedros.

Vaccines (The Guardian)

In London, the NHS is taking every precaution by setting up pop-up vaccination centres. Over the weekend, thousands of gay men have travelled from around the country to get a dose of the vaccine. As Monkeypox is often transmitted through skin-on-skin contact, many sexually active gay men have been urged to get the vaccine. But, this doesn’t mean that the virus is exclusive to gay men.

David Wilde is one of the many gay men who decided to take action. David told the Independent, “It was quite a long queue, but definitely worth it,” he said. “It’s really nice to see the amount of people who have come out to get the jab as well.” David grew concerned when two of his friends became ill with the virus and were later hospitalised. “I thought it was really important to come down today and to wait in line no matter how long it took to get the vaccine,” he said.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (BBC)
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (BBC)

So far, 98% of those infected with Monkeypox, in the UK, are gay men. Worryingly, the media is starting to label Monkeypox as a gay disease, with some concerning echoes of the AIDs crisis. Chris, another cautious vaccine seeker expressed their concerns to the Independent: “Although it is mostly prevalent in men who have sex with men at the moment, that can very easily change because it is a body-contact disease, it’s not an STD,” they said. “The government treating it as an STD has put so much pressure on our already overwhelmed and systemically underfunded sexual health services. This is the wrong move because most of these clinics are independent so they don’t have a coordinated response.”

Vaccine queues in London (iNews)As Monkeypox takes hold in the capital, we must not scapegoat and stereotype the gay community. We are all capable of contracting and spreading the virus. “This is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups,” Dr. Tedros said.