A New Brunswick man is hoping to shake the stigma around men's mental health with a podcast that he started to cope with his own anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Kyle Moore, 22, was studying sports media at Ryerson University when everything came to head in July 2019, following his third year at the school.
The St. Stephen man was staying in Toronto that summer, his first since beginning the program. He started to feel overwhelmed by some previously unresolved mental health struggles.
"If I don't tell anybody what's going on, I'm just going to burst," he said.
Moore said he had a fantastic upbringing with a loving family, and was the captain of sports teams, as well as an honour student in school.
Because of that he felt he couldn't talk about his struggles.
"I had literally this idealistic life, but yet at the same time I was dealing with a lot of anxiety, depression — I was really unhappy with who I was, had a lot of self-loathing," he said.
When things came to a tipping point, Moore said the resources he found were clinical and serious.
That's when the media student turned on his microphone and started his show Life's a Wreck.
"I love the podcast forum because it's very authentic," he said.
"You've got anywhere between 20 minutes to two hours that you can sit there and rant about what's going on in your life. And people want to hear that human, authentic take on what life is like for them."
Season 4 underway
Moore is now on Season 4 of the podcast.
Over the course of the show, he's spoken with professional athletes, musicians, TikTok stars, former gang members — all in a casual, informal conversation about mental health.
"It's just been this eclectic collage that I have been able to build around mental health."
But his favourite conversation that stands out the most is one that he had with his two of his closest friends.
"We sat down with mics in my living room, in my childhood home — we all had a beer and we sat around and we talked about mental health for about an hour."
Moore said all the episodes of his podcast are meaningful to him, but sharing such a candid conversation with long time friends was emotional.
"When I was a kid, I never would have imagined talking to my friends about the struggles that I was going through, and now I've got some of my closest friends with a mic in their hand talking about their mental health, and talking to me about mine."
Moore's conversation is starting to branch out beyond the microphone and into the community.
He's recently teamed up with the Canadian Mental Health Association in New Brunswick to promote the work that's being done by the non-profit group in the St. Stephen area, where he currently lives.
Executive director Christa Baldwin hopes it's the start of continued partnership with Moore.
"For men it's very difficult for them to reach out and to ask for help," Baldwin said.
"They have this idea of being vulnerable is a weakness and they have to be tough and manly, and that man-code is really damaging — it's devastating actually," she said.
Not an easy demographic to reach
Baldwin said having someone like Moore speaking out about mental health struggles will help tap into a demographic that doesn't reach out for help easily.
"Men do struggle. Men do have mental health, mental illness concerns and they need to be OK with talking about that, have education about that."
Moore's initial motivation to start the podcast has helped him cope with his personal mental health struggles.
"Talking about my mental health openly, connecting with people about my mental health, having people share their stories with me…. it's changed my life. It is a weight that's lifted off my shoulders that I never thought I would be able to shrug off."