Health month was in June and Carly Gibbs looks at how podcasters are seeking to help men develop a happier, healthier mind.
He was your average Kiwi bloke with a good job and good mates but something was weighing Brutus Powers down.
On the weekends when catching up with those mates over a beer, many were "gutted" at where their life was at and didn't know how to fix things.
Powers, 40, began brainstorming how he could help and decided to start a podcast.
He called it The New Generation of Guy, and since March, the business performance coach has been dispensing skills to get men "moving from an average life to living like a legend".
Powers, who is also a DJ and worked in radio (his birth name is Tim Williams but he changed his name by deed poll after losing a radio challenge with a colleague), produces his free, weekly podcast on Spotify from his home studio in Pāpāmoa, and has 618 subscribers and up to 1200 streams per episode.
His success supports a survey showing significant growth in New Zealander's uptake of podcasts.
Radio New Zealand and its New Jersey-based hosting and distribution partner Acast, surveyed 1006 listeners in 2019, revealing one in three (31 per cent) listened to podcasts at least once a week.
The research showed New Zealand was one of the fastest-growing and actively engaged podcast markets globally.
The Mental Health Foundation and Movember New Zealand support podcasts as one of many tools to help wellbeing, with Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson saying: "It's critical that open communication about mental wellbeing among men is encouraged" as well as society "challenging the enduring macho culture that punishes boys and men for expressing their emotions and showing vulnerability".
Alongside Powers' podcast, he has a private Facebook group, where he facilitates conversations between listeners.
The men's comments provide ideas for new episodes and a recurring topic is their confidence.
"Whether it's to go and connect with others, or ask their boss for opportunities within their role. They really lack that ability to step forward."
He encourages his subscribers to overcome limiting beliefs, and part of that is surrounding themselves with motivating people.
"[One] thing us Kiwi guys are really amazing at is taking the mickey out of each other.
"I don't think it's done in a cruel way most of the time, [but] if you've got a date, and you're going out to do some salsa dancing, you're probably going to get ripped for doing that. Over time it takes its toll on your mindset, and you decide not to put yourself out there so much."
Powers talks a lot in his podcasts about a man's circle of influence or "ecosystem".
Some of his listeners are too shy to let their guy mates know they have struggles, he says.
His podcast allows men to develop themselves "internally and externally" in their own private space and refer back to tapings.
Repetition is key: "As a young boy, we got told to go and clean our room 12 times before we actually did it, and the same [goes] with messages".
What's more, you can have headphones in so no one knows what you're listening to.
"You can pretend that you're listening to your favourite rock music, but you're actually working on yourself, which is a big, big shift because we've gone from the 'she'll be right' attitude, to now looking at opportunities of: 'How do I make myself a better guy?'"
The right podcast for you
Tauranga's Robert Dunne, Movember New Zealand country manager, says the podcast industry is "booming" given they're perfect for multi-tasking lives.
On top of that, they're reasonably cheap to produce, and the right audience can be small but perfectly targeted.
"You can make something that's exclusive for a particular demographic and that's the beauty of it. A lot of men don't feel comfortable accessing something that has that generic approach."
Nielsen research shows there are two million podcasts and 48 million episodes worldwide, so Dunne suggests doing due diligence.
"Lining up the right person with the right medium or information is absolutely the key," he says, explaining that just like finding the right psychologist, it may take a few podcasters until you find someone you dig.
"It could take two or three different podcasts until: 'Oh, I like this personality, they feel a lot like me, I like this information'."
A self-care podcast is one way to provide supplemental support in trying times, says Mount Maunganui woman Jodi Fitzwater, whose father Murray died by suicide 15 years ago at age 50.
The 35-year-old has created a t-shirt business called Fitzy's Tees, with motivational mental health slogans, and all profits going to Mike King's charity I am Hope.
She believes health podcasts for men are "great".
"They're wise people sharing what they know," she said, whether it be individual stories of survival, transformation, or through candid interviews in which guests reflect on their psychological struggles or expertise.
"Even for me, I found my help [after Dad's death] in books.
"I felt like it was company almost, or just people who understood."
Mentally fit trumps physically fit
It's also about making hard issues easy to understand, says Jimi Hunt.
The 40-year-old would love to see more males subscribe to his podcast Inside Out; considering 70 per cent of his audience is female and many of them "wives, mothers, sisters" who want to help their men.
The corporate speaker and creator of charity Live More Awesome, developed his podcast as a way to articulate his own ideas, and he does that by taking his audience into neuroscientists' offices or sharing conversations with "regular people" on their own mental fitness.
"The simplest thing that I know is the more that I work on myself, the more I help everybody else. This is me learning and being able to share my learnings at the same time.
"I'm trying to take complex subjects and break them down for the average human."
When people are low on the mental fitness continuum, it's hard for them to comprehend a lot of stuff in the written word, he says.
"Auditory learning is easier for a lot of people, and I think anecdotally, it's better for men."
Hunt, 40, who in 2012 paddled 425km on a lilo down the Waikato River to raise awareness of depression and built the world's biggest waterslide, says men understand what it means to be physically fit, but there is something more important, and it's noticed by a lot of his single female friends.
"The biggest thing that is turning them off all the men that they're potentially dating, is the mental fitness of the men.
"If you want to get a girl, I could get you to get a girlfriend far faster working on your mental fitness than your physical fitness.
"If you would like to get a better job, you need to work on your mental fitness.
"Do you want to have better relationships with your kids? Yeah, they'd like it if you could keep up with them running around the park, but they'd also like it if you didn't get short with them, take your stuff out on them."
So, how does a man go about making a change?
"We have to get him thinking," Hunt says.
"We have to get them asking the questions: 'Am I mentally fit? What would happen if I was mentally fitter? [And] how do I do that?' Well, you could start by listening to this podcast, and putting things in place like: 'I'm not allowed to listen to the next podcast until I take action on this one', whether it be writing down what you learnt; scheduling something that you can do to follow that podcast up; it might be writing down everything you disagree with in that podcast and why."
Hunt says it's necessary because listening to podcasts is very passive. You can listen to them while driving, running, or even tackling DIY projects.
"Not like a book, where you have to be singularly focused, so we've got to get them in the taking action phase off the back of that."
And Powers says it can start with baby steps.
He likens it to a bank account: "Deposits" that are going to build your mental fitness.
"I always start off my [Facebook] sessions with: 'Tell me about your latest win', and really get them to open up their mind, because when we focus on the things that we're s*** at, or it didn't go very well, we're not ready to receive information or be creative about solutions.
"So, I always look to work with: 'Tell me some of the cool stuff that's going on', and that really sets the tone for everything else."
Starter podcasts and episodes
Go to Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Google.
Inside Out with Jimi Hunt: the mental fitness podcast
Mind Brew with Jacqui MaGuire. Episode: Men's mental health: a silent crisis
The Raw HQ podcast with Josh Hall. Episode: Working hard for a reason.
The New Generation of Guy with Brutus Powers.
Planting Seeds with Raniera Rewiri.
Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Helpline: 1737
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.