Gemma Jennison is a registered mental health nurse and full time lecturer in Birmingham, also studying for a PhD in black males, mental health and hip hop.
Having developed a keen interest in human behaviour and the well-being of others through this work in the field of mental health, and previous roles in the youth offending service, Gemma was at the front lines to witness the rising tide of mental health issues, both personal and systemic that were occuring throughout society.
This, along with a life dedicated to the promotion of hip hop events, and a general immersion in hip hop culture since childhood, gave her a unique and invaluable view of the ways that mental health deeply affects men, specifically in the music industry.
The Man Down Project was developed as a direct response to seeing people she loves and cares about attempting to take their own lives, and being driven to create a safe space and productive line of discussion to facilitate a better understanding of these mental health risks and promote the right, and need, to talk openly about them among men.
Sam Stirling is an illustrator, designer and creative director based in Bristol.
One half of the creative studio Obese Aesthetics, Sam has spent the better part of a decade producing engaging visuals for a wide range of projects across the gammut of clients.
A large number of these projects have been based in the music industry due to a love and respect for the art and artists involved, giving a unique insight to the needs and pitfalls involved in trying to get ahead as an independent musician in todays market.
Always vocal about the importance of proactive mental health initiatives and attitudes, being a long term sufferer himself, you find a combination of skills, experience and insight that fit directly into the framework of the Man Down project.
Mike Simmons is a software developer based in Bristol. He has worked on projects for the Environment Agency, Nokia Music and Bristol Dyslexia Centre, among others.
Self-taught, he has been writing code since the mid-2000s on some very interesting (and some very boring) websites and apps.
Having been around friends who have directly suffered at the hands of mental illness, the chance to work on a project that can help is a real privilege.
As a keen follower of music (especially Hip Hop in Bristol), this project combines two subjects close to his heart.
Dave Jones is an assistant psychologist working in a forensic hospital, and is also a voluntary counsellor at a Birmingham based counselling charity.
After developing an early fascination with psychology, he pursued studies in this field and began working on inpatient wards in mental health hospitals. Sharing in the experiences, challenges, and recovery of these people led to him towards a deeper examination of trauma and recovery, coinciding with his own experiences of trauma, depression, and anxiety.
He began training as an integrative psychotherapist and became progressively more aware of how his own experiences have impacted his mental health, as well as how systemic and cultural issues can contribute towards widespread mental health crises.
The MDP has arisen out of necessity, helping to address the shortcomings for mental health support and to challenge social pressures for men to stay silent; Dave is hoping to use his experiences and training to support others to access the support that should've always been available, and to do so without shame.
Jon Kennard is an editor and writer with 20 years’ experience in publishing.
He’s also run his own record label, Leisure Recordings, in his home town of Bristol and has DJed since 1997.
Jon has friends and relatives who receive support for a wide range of mental health issues, and he has previously sought counselling and psychotherapy for anxiety himself. He advocates for an open conversation around mental health.
I’ve been a part of the Bristol punk and hardcore scene for around 21 years being in bands since I was 16.
I work within customer service for Shiner Distribution an international Skate distribution company based in Bristol.
I have seen the devastating impact depression has had on some of my male friends and family. My father took his own life when I was 21, and as is usually the case with men, nobody even knew anything was wrong.
I made the decision to go to therapy only 2 years ago after denying my depression & anxiety for years. Experiencing the positive effects of admitting I needed help, receiving that help and being able to talk openly about mental health issues has encouraged me to challenge the silence of men/boys going through the same thing.
I am completely aware that men don’t ‘talk about feelings’ and I want to help change this. I feel that Mandown is the perfect platform for this and to work with them any way I can to help their message would be a privilege.