Senior year of high school, and I had been diagnosed with an inflamed rib from football. This caused chest pain that brought a level of concern; I mean, who wouldn’t be concerned about pain from that region?
The doctor so graciously informed me that it would never fully heal, and I’d experience some level of this for the rest of my life. So, anytime I’ve experienced chest pain in my life, that’s what I have attributed it to.
About a year ago, that was still my excuse, even when I experienced discomfort that was different from what I had grown to know. Finally, I became so uneasy with this chest pain that I began telling my wife that I needed to go to the hospital and get my heart checked out.
We put it off and put it off, and I sucked it up like men are supposed to; or at least that’s what makes us tough, right? Sacrificing our health to not be a wimp?
Anyway, there was one night that changed everything. I changed careers in the middle of COVID, was stressed about life, and unable to turn off my brain night after night. Until one evening, my entire chest compressed, I couldn’t breathe, everything went into slow motion, and I couldn’t see straight.
Was it a heart attack? I’m only 27. Will I be one of those absurd cases of a young guy with a heart attack?
I stood up and began to pace, trying to breathe and regain my bearing. After about ten minutes, I was back to breathing but exhausted.
What the hell just happened?
I finally voiced what I needed to for 10 plus years, “I think I have anxiety.” I came to learn that’s exactly what it was and realized that for at least ten years, I suffered from this and did nothing about it…because I needed to suck it up.
This is a problem that countless men face in our society: the tension of what it means to “be a man” in the fight for his own health. There is a horrible expectation to suck it up, even when serious problems are happening in men’s health.
What exactly is this costing us? As of 2019, men are four times more likely to die by suicide than females. In my county, we had 180 deaths by suicide in 2019; we are very regularly top 10 in the nation for deaths by suicide. Of those suicides, 79% were males. Globally, on average, a man dies by suicide every minute of every day. Lastly, of men who experience depression, only 5% seek any outpatient resources.
After my own encounters with depression and anxiety, I started doing research and found these unsettling stats and decided that this can’t happen anymore, and Inherent was born.
One of my great friends started Inherent Clothier, a menswear company that takes the concept of enclothed cognition and brings it to life for men. We use menswear to inspire strength, hope, and confidence in men. The message was so widely accepted that I, Andrew Perkett, joined him to start a 501(c)(3) for-impact organization called Inherent Foundation. We both looked for resources specified to men and couldn’t find anything. Some incredible groups are advocating and starting the conversation for men. Still, there’s very little that exists to help men with practical resources.
The stat that stood out to us the most was that of men who experience depression, only 5% percent seek any outpatient resources, and we were curious as to why. We narrowed it down to two things: aesthetics and cost. Many mental health resources, although effective, feel very pharmaceutical and clinical; they aren’t appealing, especially for men. Secondly, almost all mental health resources are quite expensive and often cost more than most men are willing to spend. We wanted to solve those problems, and that’s what the Inherent Foundation became.
Inherent Foundation is a platform that develops resources, events, and programs to assist men fighting for mental wellness. For example, we put on a monthly event called a Huddle that is an organic place for men to feel safe to talk about life with other men. Oh, and we have an in-house barber, beer, poker table, and leather couches. Like I said, we want it to be appealing. We’ve also created a program that is coming soon called the Dollar Dudes. A man becomes a Dollar Dude by donating $1/week. This goes into a fund that helps men afford the resources they need and deserve. We’ve developed a community of men dedicated to helping each other.
Our world is full of men who crave life, who want to live but are told to “man up,” whatever that may mean, and it’s clearly costing us. While we desire all the support we can get, our bigger goal is that men hear the stats listed above and decide to do something about it.
Whether it’s with us or just choosing health for yourself, we just want to see men making a change. We always leave men with two thoughts when we share the stats above.
The first is that when you are healthier, you become a better father, brother, friend, husband, etc. You become better for those around you. Secondly, we’ve come to believe that strength is somehow a facade. We must carry that facade with us wherever we go. Rather, men must start learning to have the strength to not carry a facade.
In our opinion, that’s really what it means to “be a man.” Drop the facade, break the barriers, and be the best you can for those and everyone around you.
It’s bold, but our challenge for every man is to live your best life, and by doing so, you will live bold.