Recruits welcome at Whole Man Academy

The official launch of Whole Man Academy

The official launch of Whole Man Academy

A new organisation that gives men an opportunity to discuss mental health, mindset and thoughts on male identity in the 21st century has officially launched in London. Whole Man Academy, which is supported by James + Jake, organises events in comfortable, sophisticated venues where men can relax and have time to reflect. Its celebratory launch party recently took place at the esteemed British heritage clothing brand Gieves and Hawkes, No1 Savile Row.

Often hosted by a professional life coach and one of the company’s founders, Anthony Astbury, the academies can span a full day, often on a weekend, or take place during the evening. Each one will focus on a particular theme and includes a combination of panel discussions, often guided by an experienced journalist or editor, thought provoking activities and time to chat informally with others. At Whole Man Academy’s most recent event, more than 50 men gathered to hear an interview with male model and entrepreneur David Gandy, as well as style journalist Aleksander Cvetkovic and men’s mental health advocate and speaker Paul McGregor. Together they discussed the potential harm of viewing life through an Instagram lens, the part that fashion and style plays in building confidence as well as attitudes to men’s grooming.

The concept for Whole Man Academy was formed in 2018 when former city broker Anthony and Matthew Shaw, News Editor at the BBC, discussed the idea over lunch. “We know there is a mental health crisis in the U.K – the statistics prove that, with men being adversely affected the most. Guys are often brought up to think that talking openly is not very manly. I worked in the City where you can be under intense pressure and spend in excess of 60 hours a week in what, at times, can be a rather toxic environment. I saw first-hand how men are very good at hiding what’s really going on in their heads; many of us put on a brave face”, Anthony told James + Jake.

Whole Man Academy’s official launch event

Whole Man Academy’s official launch event

Twelve men commit suicide in the UK every day. It remains the biggest killer of men aged between 20 and 49. So what can men do and where can they go to seek help when they are often so reluctant to talk about their concerns? The answer is Whole Man Academy, which aims to take conversations among men beyond the pub or football pitch, encouraging an open dialogue and different perspectives. And they do it all in the perfect setting to enable men to get comfy and start chatting.

“We booked a comfortable venue which gave that feeling of sitting in a lounge – a relaxed, inviting setting with sofas, stools, coffee and snacks. Matthew spoke about mental health and I spoke about mindset. We also invited guys in our network to speak, guys who had an interesting and motivational story to tell and who could add real value to the group and strike a chord with others. Although we knew how many guys had signed up for a ticket to the event, we really didn’t know if many (or indeed any) would turn up! Our concerns were short lived. By 10.30am that morning the room was full of guys, many of whom were strangers, talking and ready to get started”, Anthony added.

Whole Man Academy has been an instant success, with strong attendee numbers, an interview on BBC Radio 2 with co-founder Matthew Shaw, and a feature in The Independent. The first event in September 2018 welcomed 26 men who talked, listened and made new connections. Its second event in January grew in numbers even further, with guests having the option to listen to lessons from former professional footballer and boxer Leon McKenzie as well as a host of other speakers. They also all took part in a visual dialogue session, run by Julian Burton, Director of Delta7Change. The organisation is officially sponsored by London Sock Company and Gieves and Hawkes.

James + Jake has proudly supported two recent events organised by Whole Man Academy as part of our 1.1.1 programme. Through the scheme we donate one per cent of our time, profit, and product to worthwhile causes or companies that make a difference to the lives of men in need of help or support. Read more about the 1.1.1 model here.

To stay up to date with news, events and academy days organised by Whole Man Academy follow on Instagram, here.

James Hood