Martin Gallagher writes Learning To Dad, a blog that recently ranked in the Top 10 UK Mental Health Blogs. Covering a mixture of parenting and mental health issues, Learning To Dad is also used for equality activism for Gypsies, Romani and Irish Travellers (GRT). Martin told us about the myth of ‘manning up’, the need to open up and working with PRs.
Why did you start your blog?
I started the blog whilst being a stay at home dad doing my degree. It was hard. At the time I needed an outlet to clear my head as my depression had me in a dark place for a long time. My writing, and being able to control the content I could put online, meant I could be honest and raw about my life, whilst having some fun and joking about it all!
All of the above, plus the fact I don’t have the money for a councillor!
What’s the biggest issue facing mental health in the UK today?
Society still has a problem with thinking that getting some fresh air, or ‘manning up’ cures depression. It’d be dead good if that was the case, as the GRT community, who are the human embodiment of ‘manning up’, are still seven times more likely to commit suicide than the rest of the general population. Also, the need for accessible services that meet the need and demand without unbearable waiting lists.
How do you think mental health awareness has changed in recent years?
I think the work being done is brilliant so far!
Through campaigns from Time to Change and CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), I felt that I could open up and visit my doctor. Being an Irish Traveller, opening up about depression is a massive ‘NOPE’. So, those organisations helped me massively.
By challenging the perceptions that have stopped people from opening up about their mental health in the past, I believe these campaigns, as well as each individual who are speaking out, have already shaped future generations to be more accepting and open about mental health.
What advice would you give someone who was struggling with their mental health?
The best piece of advice I would give is to open up, and speaking to your friends and family if you feel like you can do so. I was fortunate to have family who are supportive, and gave me the patience I needed to get to where I am now. Unfortunately, some people may not be as supportive, which may make you feel isolated, so make sure to use one of the many free helplines that can be found with a quick search. The path to feeling able like you can manage your mental health issues is a long one, but it begins with reaching out for help.
How do you engage with your readers and community?
Being a chatty person, I’m fortunate that social media makes it easy for people to get in touch! Through Facebook and WordPress, I’ve had Q&As with people about the GRT community and our lifestyle, for example, or people have messaged who have just needed to talk about their own mental health issues, and I’m happy that people feel that the can talk to me about it!
How do you like to work with PRs?
When aiming to appeal to different communities, I have to be flexible. The same goes for PR. I was fortunate to work with an online store earlier this year, which was a good experience for me. I now write for two print magazines, speaking about mental health and GRT lifestyle, all because of the blog! I am always open to new opportunities that the world of blogging and PR can bring!
What one thing should brands or PRs know about you?
I like to be as honest and raw as can be, and I feel honesty is the best way to connect with your audiences. I always want to have fun and add a bit of humour, (at my own expense mostly) to anything that I am involved in!
What other blogs do you read?
I LOVE The Blunt Backpacker, the author, Noni Roberts writes about the things you would never think about whilst travelling and it hilarious. Speaking of travelling, Travel Mad Dad and Travel Mad Mum, have made us decide to travel for six months.
Martin and Learning To Dad are both listed on the Vuelio Influencer Database, which is the UK’s leading influencer database available to the PR and communications industries.