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Lessons on mental health from Henry Cavill
Therapy dogs, the power of hobbies and the importance of male mental health.
I wonder if Henry Cavill has been reading Conversations By The Sea? He has certainly caught more than just my eye this week with some of his takes on mental health.
Ahead of the release of season 2 of The Witcher on Netflix later this month, Cavill has been doing the press circuit, including appearing on ITV’s Lorraine accompanied by his dog, Kal.
On the show, Cavill has explained how Kal “saved [his] emotional and psychological bacon many times.” Fans of the star who played Superman will know that the eight-year-old American Akita often accompanies Cavill on set, to interviews and even to movie premieres. In fact, Kal is a registered therapy dog, which means he can travel on flights with Cavill and provides much-needed support to the star both on the road and at home.
This got me thinking about my own therapy dog, although not officially certified (I doubt he’d pass any tests). I have written extensively about my bond with Potter, our oldest greyhound who we adopted just nine days before my mam died of Pancreatic Cancer in a local hospice. When I first started Content By The Sea, I would regularly take Potter to meetings (where he was allowed) and walking him every day brought a welcome relief from both working and living in a very small flat above a shop.
A few fond memories of the early days include the time he wee’d on a rival office dog’s mam’s chair when I was there working in another room. I was summoned via Slack to come and collect my son who may have mistaken a cockapoo for a rabbit. On another occasion, he lay flat-out in a meeting room with a client and proceeded to fill the room with such toxic fart fumes that we had to open the windows and doors just to breathe.
So, while Potter may not be quite on par with Kal the therapy dog, the presence of a dog in the media as more than just a pet is really a fantastic thing for raising awareness of the positive impact that companion animals can have on our mental health. Cavill is not only open about his own mental health struggles, something that many men both in and out of the spotlight find difficult to do, but he also proudly shares the impact that Kal has made on his own progression.
The power of hobbies
In another Henry Cavill-related media moment that caught my eye this week, the actor was on Graham Norton’s BBC show (this time without our furry friend) and the Irish comedian proceeded to ask Cavill about his hobbies. Cavill, who is a self-proclaimed “geek” confessed that he does, indeed, enjoy painting Warhammer models, among other equally uncool activities in his spare time. Norton proceeded to both make fun of Cavill, and encourage the audience to laugh along. As a Warhammer widow myself, I couldn’t help but think about why it’s still acceptable to ridicule people, particularly men, for enjoying these ‘nerdy’ pursuits. The below tweet from @tainkirrahe puts in better than I ever could, highlighting that we love to talk about male mental health but continue to deride those who have found harmless outlets like Cavill.
It’s a strange world that we live in where men are celebrated for enjoying sports but laughed at for taking part in tabletop board games, even though both open doors to communities that many rely on. In August last year, I wrote about doing what makes you happy, even if you aren’t any good at it. This was mostly a focus on my own artistic pursuits, but the message stands for any hobby that you do simply just to enjoy. In a world obsessed with productivity and hustle, it’s pretty awesome that one of the world’s biggest actors still makes time to paint Warhammer and play online games with his lifelong friends. If Cavill can do something just for fun, then we all can.
So, what do you think about therapy dogs - do you have a pet who helps you through the day? And what about hobbies, do you think we are anywhere near a place where it’s okay to enjoy nerdy things? Let me know your thoughts on this over on Twitter @ContentByTheSea or reply to this email for a confidential chat.
All I’ve done this week is work and read low-stakes romance novels. We’re hoping to finish early for the festive period so, in the meantime, you’ll find me in front of my laptop or devouring another fun story like the above.
That’s all from me this week,
Have a good one!
Enjoyed this? You might like these past issues:
1st December: Give the gift of rest this Christmas
24 November: Who are you?
17 November: Christmas comes early
10 November: Does size matter?
5 November: Consistency is overrated
27 October: Winter is coming whether you like it or not
20 October: I got sick
13 October: This girl is me
6 October: Everything is awful… or is it?
29 September: That’s dope
22 September: Have a word with yourself
15 September: Running changed my life