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Men’s mental health: “It’s something you have to deal with every day”

Ian McLauren and Sam Williamson, co-founders of CBDiablo speak about mental health support and what needs to change for men.

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Men: a blue background with the outline of a head against it

In the final part of our Men’s Mental Health series, Ian McLauren and Sam Williamson, co-founders of CBDiablo speak about how their own experiences and why they choose to give back to a mental health charity.

Read the first, second and third parts of our men and mental health series here.

Ian McLauren and Sam Williamson, co-founded CBDiablo together in 2019, an online, Edinburgh-based CBD store that has a particular focus on mental health.

Both men have experienced mental health difficulties in their lives, which made them feel passionate about offering help to others. So much so that they donate a portion of their profits to mental health charities.

Ian explained how his experience of bullying while at school, started his struggle with mental health.

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“My mental health journey started when I was a teenager. I struggled a lot with bullying and I experienced anxiety. When I got a little bit older, this led to suicidal thoughts and I needed to go to counselling,” he said.

A report from 2018, revealed that bullying can have a massive effect on pupils’ mental health. In a survey of 2,000 students, one fifth said they had experienced bullying while three quarters felt this directly impacted their mental health. A further 33 per cent reported having suicidal thoughts as a result.

“When I got to university, I got sick with a reoccurring chest infection which led to [me experiencing] depression and struggling to function,” Ian continued.

“My life is quite heavily impacted with my mental health and even today it’s a struggle. It’s something you have to deal with every day but I’ve gotten to a place where I’m on top of it.”

It can be difficult to open up about mental health, especially for men. They are less likely to access psychological therapies than women, according to The Mental Health Foundation. Only 36 per cent of referrals to the NHS talking therapies are men. As a result, men may resort to other more dangerous ways of coping with mental health strain, such as drinking, drugs or violence.

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Mental health and staying CALM

The charity, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) estimates that 125 people die by suicide every week in the UK, with 75 per cent of those deaths being men.

Ian said: “I spoke to my mum and she pushed me in the direction of help. I was very nervous and unsure what to do. When I was at university, it got to a point where I didn’t want to lay around in bed anymore, so I knew I needed to go and get a job and complete my studies. I went to the doctors and got help that way. I don’t remember it being difficult, but it wasn’t my choice either, I was either forced by situation, or by a parent.”

Ian and Sam met in their first year of university. After they completed their studies, they moved into marketing and SEO, but it wasn’t until they worked with a CBD company that they came across its benefits for mental health. They decided to go into business together but were determined to have a charitable focus.

Sam said: “We tried CBD when we started working with the client and we felt a benefit from it fairly early on, especially for things like sleep. Sleep is obviously a big part of your mental health.”

A lack of sleep creates a vicious circle when it comes to health. Poor sleep can impact mental health leaving a person feeling sluggish, stressed or increasingly anxious. Increased stress or anxiety can then affect the quality of sleep contributing to poor mental health.

Ian added: “We really enjoyed CBD, so we thought we would do something by ourselves. But [we wanted to] do something that means something. The obvious choice was mental health because of my own experiences. We made a beeline for CALM as well because it represents who we are.

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“I’ve got two brothers and Sam has three brothers. We both have dads or uncles and it’s not always easy to open up, especially for men. That’s why we chose a mental health charity and one with a predominately male focus.”

Men: A photo of Ian from CBDiablo

Mental Health charities

CALM is a charity that takes a stand against suicide in the UK, by raising awareness of the stereotypes, offering help and running life-saving services.

It offers a free and confidential web chat for anyone in need of help and also hosts support services for anyone who has lost someone due to suicide. While the charity is not solely focused on men, it has launched campaigns such as  #BestManProject which aims to challenge male stereotypes, encourage positive behavioural changes and address help-seeking behaviour using art, music or sport.

Both Ian and Sam decided to donate 20 per cent of their profits to CALM. They are incredibly transparent about the donation process often posting their donations to the charity on Instagram. In September, they posted that they donated £665. CALM highlighted that just £8 can answer one life-saving call and that they managed to answer over 83 of these over the month of August.

The brand also highlights mental health and wellness across their social media, choosing to focus on Movember for men’s health. Movember is the mental health campaign that sees men grow their facial hair to raise awareness.

The response has been positive. Sam explained it is one of the reasons that people stay with the brand, while they often email to say it has been the start of their own mental health journey.

“It’s a bit part of the reason why people continue to buy from us,” Sam said.

Ian added: “We get a lot of people emailing to say it’s changed their life, which is great, or that it has been a building block towards feeling better. It might have been part of their journey towards therapy or improving their lifestyle. CBD does seem to be quite a fundamental part of it for some people.”

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Men: A photo of Sam from CBDiablo

Introducing change

When it comes to changing the way men speak about their mental health, Ian highlighted that it can be a generational thing.

“I think a lot of the time, older generations of men don’t want to seem weak or vulnerable and that’s transcended down to younger generations,” he said.

“Even though things are a little better, there is partly a pride or bravado. If you are struggling with mental health or feeling bad then you’re not really meant to bring it up, so it’s awkward to talk to somebody.”

He continued: “A lot of guys don’t feel equipped to deal with that conversation either. If a friend comes to you who is struggling, then I don’t think a lot of men know how to deal with that. Girls seem to deal with it really well, it seems to be discourse between friends but for men, not so much.”

In speaking with other charities that deal with male mental health or creating communities where men can go to feel less isolated, they have also learned that sometimes it can be down to body language.

Ian added: “Apparently men like to sit next to each other, side by side, but women prefer to be face to face, which is how they like to open up. There are those key differences but it’s not clear if it’s biology that causes that. These are differences that might stop health services from being equipped to deal with different people because there are slight differences in the way people open up.”

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Mental health

Can CBD help with feelings of sadness on blue Monday?

Blue Monday may or may not be a real thing, but feelings of sadness, anxiety and stress are.

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Blue Monday: A woman sitting on the floor with a jumble of thoughts.

The third Monday in January is often referred to as ‘blue Monday.’ But what is it and could taking CBD help with feelings of depression, stress or anxiety?

What is blue Monday?

Blue Monday is thought to be the most depressing day of the year.

It was created after psychologist Cliff Arnall was asked to create a formula for the holiday blues. It falls on the third Monday of January each year. While there is a lot of debate as to whether it is real or not, depression and anxiety can be difficult to cope with.

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January can be a really hard time of year for those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It may be due to the increase in cold weather, post-holiday sadness and credit card statements.

Real or not, it can be an opportunity to start talking about how depression or anxiety affect us all.

Could CBD help to lift our mood during this difficult month?

CBD for depression

Symptoms of depression can include a persistent low mood, unhappiness, low self-esteem or feeling tearful. It can cause a loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, withdrawal, tiredness or sleep issues. In severe forms, it may also cause suicidal thoughts.

CBD may have a positive interaction with the hormone, serotonin in our brains. Serotonin is involved with different functions in our bodies but it can impact a person’s happiness or emotional well-being. Low serotonin levels are associated with depression.

A study examined how CBD could make a difference to people who struggle with seasonal depression. Participants in the study were given 400mg of CBD or a placebo. Researchers reported those given the CBD reported less anxiety than those on the placebo.

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CBD for anxiety

Anxiety is a reaction to stress creating an apprehensive feeling about what may happen. Some people struggle with strong feelings of anxiety every day. These feelings of anxiety can be a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) or social anxiety disorder.

A study on CBD and sleep quality also found it may reduce anxiety. It involved 72 participants with 47 experiencing anxiety and 25 with poor quality sleep. Each participant was given a daily dose of 25mg of CBD then asked to report how they felt afterwards. The researchers recorded that 79.2 per cent recorded reduced anxiety and 66.7 per cent said their sleep had improved after the first month.

CBD for stress

Our bodies naturally produce a hormone called cortisol which is responsible for our feelings of stress. When we encounter fear or a stressful situation, our brain signals our nerve and hormone systems. Adrenaline and cortisol rush into our body causing a spike in blood pressure and heart rate.

Cortisol increases the glucose in the bloodstream and increases the availability of substances that can repair tissue. It controls mood, motivation and fear.

In one study, male participants with Parkinson’s disease were given CBD then asked to undergo a simulated public speaking test. Researchers reported that an oral dose of 300 mg of CBD given 90 minutes before the test reduce the participant’s anxiety and stress.

The best way to take CBD

There is no right or wrong way to take CBD if you are feeling blue.

The most common ways to take CBD are oils or tinctures, edibles or vaping. Each person may have an individual preference for one method over another. Oils or tinctures can be great if you need a quick, easy way to take a dose but vaping helps the CBD to reach the system faster. This could be a great choice if you are struggling with panic attacks and need a faster dose.

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Edibles are a discreet way to take CBD and they also taste nicer than some oils. The best way to decide what is right for you is to try different methods until you find the one you prefer.

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Mental health

Could CBD be the key to a healthier 2022?

We explore the myriad of ways CBD could help you have a healthy 2022.

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CBD 2022
The start of a new year is always the time for making changes.

The start of a new year is always the time for making changes, setting goals and new promises, could CBD help you make some positive changes this year?

At the end of 2020, 43 per cent of one survey’s participants resolved to eat healthier, while 50 per cent aimed to exercise more. And that was after one year of a pandemic; as we now enter the third, Cannabis Health looks at how CBD could be the key to a healthier 2022 for you. 

What is CBD?

Its official name is cannabidiol and is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis.

Unlike its cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive enzymes and therefore does not cause a ‘high’.

Although studies are continually ongoing, it has not yet been found to have any effects indicative of abuse or dependence. 

Here are just a few of the ways CBD can help you feel healthier this year. 

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Period pain 

We thought we’d start with the big guns; period pain. Something almost every woman suffers from to some degree, the monthly cramps can have a huge impact on your mood and lifestyle. 

With its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, CBD is a perfect remedy for menstrual difficulty – and there are so many ways you could take it! 

While oils and edibles are perfect for a quick fix, there are other methods that can be more enjoyable and direct. 

Craving chocolate during your period is totally normal, so why not mix a few drops of CBD oil to a soothing mug of hot chocolate?

Or if you prefer lounging in the bath, throw in a CBD bath bomb to help you fizz away to your happy place feeling relaxed and calm (they’ll even help with lower back pain too).

Want a more direct route? You can’t get more precise than CBD tampons. Vaginal absorption is one of the fastest ways to get a dose into the system, as the walls of the vagina absorb the CBD immediately into the bloodstream where it can get to work. 

New year’s diet

We’ve all been there – pledging to eat well, maybe even lose a few pounds, but how can CBD help you eat healthier?

Adding hemp (the plant from which CBD hails) can have numerous benefits – it’s considered a superfood after all. 

A great source of Omega 3 and 6, polyunsaturated fats that cannot be manufactured by the body, hemp is thought to help reduce cholesterol, and be associated with improvements in skin, heart health and mental health. 

Hemp seeds are also a fantastic, complete protein source so if you’re a gym-goer, athlete or body builder looking to improve their macros, a sprinkling could work wonders! 

A good night’s sleep 

It’s no secret that good health starts when you’re not even awake. A bad night’s sleep can cause a ripple effect of unhealthy decisions. But CBD can help. 

study from 2019 with 72 patients, 25 of whom experienced poor sleep, looked at whether CBD could improve sleep. The participants were given a capsule containing 25 milligrams of CBD and in the first month, 66.7 per cent reported better sleep.

With several methods available, there’s no right or wrong way to take CBD for sleep, but many find oils and edibles work best, although it entirely depends on your own endocannabinoid system. 

Avoiding anxiety and burnout

The added pressure we put on ourselves at this time of year, not to mention the current climate we’re living in, can leave us feeling frazzled and burnt out. This is where CBD could come into its own.

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In 2021, a review of all the research so far found that CBD can have a positive impact on anxiety and stress. Scientists believe that CBD works by interacting with receptors in the brain to potential sending signals to the neurotransmitter, serotonin.

While more research is needed to uncover how precisely the two react, what we do know is that serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for mental health and that lower levels are sometimes associated with depression or anxiety, which why the medicinal treatment for anxiety is usually selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Whatever you’re using CBD for, and however you choose to take it, the advice from professionals is always to start low and go slow, upping the dose only once you’re sure of the effects – and always speak to your doctor before making changes to your medication.

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Mental health

Yoga and CBD – how a new event hopes to combine benefits of both

If you have ever been curious about cannabinoids or yoga, then this is could be the event for you.

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Yoga: Two people practising yoga on a mat

Practising yoga is perfect for connecting the body, while CBD may help you to deal with stress and anxiety.

After the stress of the past two years, we could all do with making relaxation and unwinding one of our new year’s resolutions. Taking up yoga or introducing CBD could be a great start to 2022.

A new event, Yoga & CBD:  a sensory workshop, aims to combine the two, offering an evening of yoga, conscious movement and plant education. It will be held on the 20 January at Core Clapton

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The yoga will be led by Victoria Logan, who has been working in the cannabis space for three years, alongside teaching yoga. Roísín Delaney of cannabis consultancy firm, Neon Green, will provide information on the endocannabinoid system while Herbotany Health will be providing CBD products for attendees.

Victoria has been teaching yoga for around four years after completing her teacher training in India, and is passionate about mental health, CBD and reconnecting with the body.

Victoria said: “I came to the cannabis space through the medical route instead of wellness. I’ve been working for the Centre for Medical Cannabis for about three years now trying to change policy around prescriptions. I’ve also been using cannabis myself for a long time as well so I was able to cross over into the CBD market.”

She added: “I understood that people were quite curious about using CBD as a supplement. I met a lot of interesting patients who were using it as part of their daily rituals, especially if they have members of their family who are quite sick. They use CBD as a supplement to help them manage that situation as well. It seemed like a really natural progression to start talking about CBD and introducing it into my practice.”

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Yoga: Victoria Logan performing a yoga pose

Yoga and mental health

Yoga and CBD share a lot in common when it comes to the health benefits they could offer. This is especially true when it comes to helping with mental health conditions.

“It slows everything [down] and allows you to connect the mind and body,” explained Victoria.

“CBD is a natural product that shares a lot of the sort of healing and calming aspects that yoga does. It allows you to come into a correct headspace while giving you the space to manage things. It melts away a lot of mental health issues especially with meditation and pranayama which is a breathing technique we use in yoga.”

Victoria stressed that the session will involve a gentle vinyasa practice, with attendees at the event led through breathing techniques and given CBD to sample. The variation on each pose will allow beginners and experts alike to tailor the event to their experience level.

Although yoga is often associated with flexibility, it isn’t a requirement to get started. There are many different physical and mental health conditions that can benefit from taking part or introducing a regular yoga routine.

“You hear people saying, oh no, I can’t do that as I’m too stiff. You are too stiff because the body is holding on to that trauma or illness, grief or anger, whatever situation has happened to you,” said Victoria.

“With yoga practise, it really works on those areas. Especially a practice called Yin yoga which holds postures for three to five breaths. It’s very floor-based and restorative while also being calming and passive. You may find it a bit uncomfortable to begin with, but the longer you sit in the posture, you learn that it’s actually really beneficial as you are melting away the stress.

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“You are opening the body, allowing it that little bit of space and recovery. Then with the CBD, it’s a lovely extra thing to have in the practise. It can help with stiffness in the body and help with holding the poses for longer.”

Endocannabinoid system education

The event will begin with an introduction to the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Victoria said: “I think it’s really fundamental that people understand that we have it in our bodies. A lot of people don’t actually know it’s there and that comes down to education. We will introduce the ECS, receptors and how the plant interacts with that.

“We will also have a bit of pranayama which is a breathing technique and w will all take some of the Herbotany CBD. There will also be little pots of ointment for self-massage too. We invite people to smell the product and consciously use it, to take time to appreciate it and nourish the body.”

Yoga events

The event is hoped to be the first of many, with plans to develop a series that can be held across the UK, in person and online.

“Yoga workshops are a really nice thing to attend. It’s a nice environment where you meet lots of lovely people who are on similar journeys or paths. If people are dealing with things, especially at the moment, or something traumatic has happened then it can create a safe space to go and release some of that stress or tension,” added Victoria.

“I love organising events and wellness workshops which bring people together while creating community vibes. I think people would really respond to it at the moment because of the last couple of years. It feels like the next natural thing for us to do is to step outside of this little Covid bubble to create some wellness events and help people move back to whatever normal life is.”

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For more information on the event, click here

 

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