“I’d like to live in a world where masculinity is reimagined” – Jacob’s Men’s Health Week blog


To mark Men’s Health Week, which runs from 12 – 18 June, matron Jacob Agoro shared his thoughts on looking after yourself as a man, the importance of wellbeing, and the changes he’d like to see in the future for his young son.

Hello, my name is Jacob and I work as a matron at the Dales in Halifax.

I have worked for the Trust since December 2012. Prior to that my wife and I lived in London. I started as a health care assistant and a colleague spotted my passion for nursing. He encouraged me to study nursing in London. After I qualified my wife and I had a choice about where we were going to continue our careers. My wife wanted to train to become a clinical psychologist and applied to a London university three times but didn’t manage to get a place. I recognised that she was becoming discouraged, so I suggested that she think about applying to universities outside of London. She said: “But what will you do?” I replied: “I’ll come with you! I can get a job anywhere!” So, we headed north to Leeds and I’m proud to say my wife graduated with doctorate in clinical psychology.

In 2015 our son was born, followed by his sister in 2017.

I was pleased to be asked to take part in a blog to celebrate Men’s Health Week. Through my work in CAMHS and latterly in adult mental health services, I see daily the impact that poor health and mental health can have in people’s lives.

People’s poor mental health isn’t about what they have done, it’s usually caused by traumatic things that have been done to a person that affects their confidence and self-esteem. Traumatic events can lead to mental health issues that derail people’s lives. Sometimes people try to over-compensate and focus all their time on trying to make other people happy. In my experience, that approach doesn’t work. You must look after your own wellbeing before you can meet other people’s needs.

In children and young people, the impact of their family’s history of mental health conditions or predisposition to poor mental health determines the future of the child. Equally, other social factors can affect a child’s trajectory: children who grow up in families where the adult role models don’t work often don’t learnt the skills that lead them to employment. The lack of work leads to other social problems as they struggle to provide for themselves or their families.

I’ve also seen in my work with young people that resilience doesn’t come easily to everyone. A big challenge for professionals working with the young people and their carers is to help them get better and to a point where they can manage things in life, which will help keep them happy and fulfilled. It’s a complex picture and balancing act.

I think men in society face unique struggles which are caused by societal pressures and expectations of what it means to be a man. Many men are taught that they must be strong in situations and not show their emotions. This causes unbelievable pressure for men who are trying to navigate life without feeling able to be vulnerable or lean on others for support. I particularly hate the term ‘Man up’. Being a man means you might be stronger than a different sex, but you should be able to be vulnerable and get help when it’s needed. I’d like to live in a world where masculinity is reimagined, so that strength is anchored in connection, openness to others and emotional transparency.

Since my son was born, I’ve seen him grow and experience the daily struggles that children face as they learn about themselves and the world around them.  When he was little, we thought he might have autism but recently, following discussion with his teacher, there is a thought that it could be dyspraxia. This has given us a different perspective. I know how ruthless the world can be for young people. I want to give him the right skill set to navigate the world. I sometimes worry he is too relaxed and too soft. I hope he will find his strength and voice as he matures. I say to him, “You can be whatever you want to be, and I’ll support you with that.” We don’t compare him to his sister. We let him be him and value him.

Personally, I’ve experienced my own mental health struggles. I have accessed therapy twice and found it helpful. No one made me go for therapy, I just realised I needed it as I was getting angry about things happening around me and was heading to the point where I wouldn’t be able to see there was a problem. I knew I needed help. There are things that other people can see in me that I don’t have a clue about! By opening up to others you allow people in, and they can shed light on your situation that can really help you. I think we all need people who we can be honest with and who hold us to account. Therapy has also given me skills to deal with situations better and has made me more resilient.

I’m at the stage of life where I think it would be a good idea to go for a well man’s check. I view it as a sensible and timely MOT. People have said to me “but you look well, you don’t need that.” I realise that I might look well on the outside, but no one knows how they are unless they allow themselves to be checked occasionally. Don’t feel that you are wasting a doctor’s time by going along to discuss health concerns. It’s their job and any health issue addressed early usually has a better outcome.

Personally, I’m a big believer in exercise to help maintain my health and wellbeing. I believe it’s best to look after yourself and believe in yourself: trust yourself and be happy with yourself. It takes work to get to that place but it’s worth it.

“I’d like to live in a world where masculinity is reimagined” – Jacob’s Men’s Health Week blog

time to read: 4 min