My experience with mental health by Tyler Woods

Written by Guest Writer

March 13, 2023

It was Super Bowl Sunday 2019, and I trudged through the snow, so sick I was walking with a cane. It was my first meeting of my men’s group, and I was determined not to miss it.

While there is a growing recognition of the importance of mental health in general, as a man, I got little to no education in feeling and recognizing my emotions. My dad taught me, by example, to remain optimistic and positive, don’t get upset, and keep the internal feelings internal, and remain nice and likable above all.

Like many men, I went through the world doing what I thought was expected of me, which was of course to go to school, get a good job, get married, and live ‘the good life.’ There wasn’t room for feelings in the equation. I kept my head down and did what was asked of me, hoping that others would keep me around if I took care of them and did a good enough job.

But I still felt. I struggled with social anxiety and an eating disorder, worked long hours, and had no friend group. The feelings that came to me were often beaten down by my inner critic judging me for being too needy, not good enough, and I berated myself to do better. As a result, I simply could not sit still and relax, I avoided vulnerability and conflict, and couldn’t even look others in the eye.

I was sent out into the world of adulthood without adequate social skills or purpose. Subsequently, my 20’s were spent obsessing over how much money I had, how my body looked, and my physical fitness. My self talk was toxic, I disliked myself, and I was lonely. A deep depression finally opened me up to the possibility of ending my life, and fortunately I chose the hardest thing I could: asking for help.

In the summer of 2018, I entered therapy for the first time. In this space I found a safe person to share things that I could never tell anyone else. Better still, my therapist turned out to be a hypnotherapist, and together we uncovered beliefs about myself and the world that were buried deep inside me like an overgrown shrubbery. Beliefs like ‘I didn’t matter’. That ‘my needs didn’t matter’. That I was ‘unlovable.’

I was isolated. At the therapist’s suggestion, I began going out and trying new things, trying to make friends. When my therapist told me about ‘MKP’ and ‘Men’s groups’ I was wary. But I warmed up to the idea. And so it came to be that I stepped into my first circle of men.

MKP otherwise known as ‘The Mankind Project’, is a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting the emotionally mature, accountable, and compassionate male role models that our communities so desperately need. What I experienced there completely transformed my life. To be with other men, openly sharing and being vulnerable, supporting one another, totally shocked me in the best way. I was moved to tears, and vowed to come back every week. I learned that I was not alone with how I felt inside. My experience was validated, and shared.

In a men’s group like this, a safe space is created to share anything and everything, in a confidential environment. A man is encouraged to share his feelings, pausing to note where in his body he feels them, to really own his personal experience.  The circle is a place for personal accountability, to examine the promises I make with myself and others. I can lean on the circle for personal support, asking for what I need (knowing that I might not get it), to make personal stretches and set goals, and examine challenges..The circle is a profound place for personal growth, harkening back to the times long ago when we sat around the fire. 

Flash back to that snowy February: so strongly did I believe in the power of men’s groups, that I have now started my own. Despite a bout of food poisoning and plenty of winter snow, I stepped into that circle with three other men, eager for connection, and my life was changed forever! We’ve met every other Sunday ever since. Men have come and gone, and still a core group attends. I’ve watched it transform lives, create leaders, and I am continuously humbled by what I birthed into the world.

Sitting with circles of men was my first taste of real community. I felt unconditionally loved and accepted for who I was, probably for the first time in my adult life. In a circle of men, I have a chance to be a leader, learn from others, show up fully, look deeply at myself, and take responsibility for my life. To embrace my mental health and love myself fully, as a whole.

Together, we can accomplish more than we ever could alone.

You are not alone, and you matter.

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Tyler Woods is a Transformational Coach, confidence and authenticity guide for introverted men, and an advocate for self love and community connection. You can find more about him at

You can find more about MKP and find a men’s group near you at


  1. Boysen

    wonderful post! Thank you. Completely consistent with why I go to men’s group as well … right down to the ‘toxic self-talk’ that helped me get there.

    • Erika Petrie

      Thanks so much for sharing Boysen…a very valid comment 😊


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