CALMzine is a free quarterly men’s lifestyle magazine put together by CALM, which is dedicated to the prevention of male suicide, the biggest single killer of men aged under 45. With a print circulation of 20,000 across the country (it’s also available online), CALMzine is created by volunteer writers, photographers, artists and illustrators, and is distributed in places where men already go. Supported by TOPMAN, the magazine is available in branches nationwide, as well as in independent retailers, record stores, student unions and venues across London.
Our aim with CALMzine is to bust some of the myths around modern masculinity. ‘Being Silent Isn’t Being Strong’ is one of our key messages, for example, and so CALMzine aims to normalise conversations about the issues young guys face, from unemployment and loneliness to anxiety and anorexia, while empowering men to ask for help when they need it. This is so important because CALM believes that if men felt able to ask for and find help when down or in crisis, then scores of suicides could be prevented. We believe that there is a cultural barrier preventing men from seeking help, as they are expected to be in control at all times and a failure to be seen as such equates to weakness and a loss of masculinity.
Amid features about men’s interests, from tattoos and holidays to music, sport and comedy, are candid pieces of writing about some of the issues that face men today, from OCD, depression and self-harm to physical health problems and life crises. We hope that readers enjoy the columns, art and features as they would in any magazine, with the crucial difference being that CALMzine engages readers in discussions about the tough stuff, shows people that everyone has a hard time sometimes, encourages guys to believe that asking for help doesn’t equate to weakness or a loss of masculinity, and illustrates that they are not alone, there is support out there and no shame in asking for it. Our hope is that people, male or female, can take CALMzine and use it as a starting point to allow themselves to be honest about who and how they are, whether they drink beer or not, pump iron in the gym or not, suffer from a mental health condition or not.
CALMzine is curated and put together by CALM, but the content is produced by the people it’s designed to reach: Young men. There are regular columns written by longterm CALM supporters, as well as articles, poetry and art submitted by readers and ambassadors. Each issue also features a main interview – previous covers include Dizzee Rascal, Professor Green, Oli Sykes – and a secondary interview, to use men’s peers and influential voices to generate mass appeal. If you want to write or design for CALMzine, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2013 the male suicide rate in the UK hit a 15 year high, and according to the latest statistics 12 men take their own lives every day in this country. Recent years have seen high profile suicides hit the newspapers bringing this issue out of the shadows and into public consciousness, while journalists and influencers such as Owen Jones and Stephen Fry speaking openly about mental health, particularly in relation to men, is starting to break the taboo, allowing others to come forward and speak about their own experiences. As one of our writers put it, “the ‘Black Dog’ is an equal opportunity mongrel” and men, just because they are men, are not exempt from hitting a rough patch or suffering mental health problems. However, guys do not talk about their issues in the same way as women do, and they are less likely to engage with the topic of mental health. So CALMzine is not a ‘mental health magazine’. It’s written by guys, for guys; we use men’s interests and peers to engage them; the tone of voice is not ‘charity’, self-developmental, or aspirational. It’s real and honest, inclusive, irreverent and engaging.
For me, the most exciting thing about CALMzine is that it strives to be the opposite to most men’s magazines; it doesn’t expect you to be anything or do anything. 1990’s ‘lad mag’ culture perpetuated unhelpful notions of masculinity, to men as well as women, and these days you can expect the faces that grace the covers of men’s magazines to be as photoshopped as the women’s, with characters such as Jack Bauer and James Bond being the poster-boys for masculinity. CALMzine doesn’t care how big your muscles are, how bushy your beard is, or whether you’re a master woodworker; CALMzine is about solidarity and keeping men alive by talking. As an Editor, it’s so refreshing to work on a publication that doesn’t aim to put a rosy, glossy filter over everything. Real life isn’t like that, and it can be a very lonely existence to believe that everyone else’s life is picture perfect when yours isn’t.
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