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CommunityMental HealthMEN-tality: ‘We don’t sit down and hold hands and sing kumbaya’

Kori Lindsay and Manny Djorner are co-founders of MEN-tality, which they formed after personal challenges and some deep conversations to help support men in Dubai. They do their work through the twice a month MEN-tality podcast, which you can also find on YouTube, through MEN-tality events, Brotherhood DXB Meetups – for men only – and also through personal training, coaching and community events.  Kori is a trainer who worked in commercial gyms and launched his...
Ann Marie McQueenNovember 25, 202220 min
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MEN-tality Kori Lindsay and Manny DjornerFrom left: Kori Lindsay and Manny Djorner are co-founders of MEN-tality

Kori Lindsay and Manny Djorner are co-founders of MEN-tality, which they formed after personal challenges and some deep conversations to help support men in Dubai. They do their work through the twice a month MEN-tality podcast, which you can also find on YouTube, through MEN-tality events, Brotherhood DXB Meetups – for men only – and also through personal training, coaching and community events. 

Kori is a trainer who worked in commercial gyms and launched his own platform Perfect Training, which empowers people to make their own decisions about fitness and health, shortly after moving to Dubai. is Manny grew up in a not-so-affluent area in South London, became a professional footballer and then entered the corporate world. He worked on Wall Street and for a global tech company, which brought him to the UAE, to doing work in disaster relief, considering a return to football — and that’s where he really started to struggle with the meaning of “success”, all of which lead to a near suicide attempt. It was three years later when he connected with Kori, had a deep, meaningful conversation, and MEN-tality was born. They spoke to the Livehealthy Podcast recently about a range of issues as part of our Movember series, including the other side of “boys don’t cry”; the two main things men are struggling with and how therapy from other brothers can help. 

Why do you think men don’t have the kind of deep discussion that led to MEN-tality? 
Manny: I don’t necessarily think that we can’t. I think we can. I think we just choose not to. As men, we struggle to be vulnerable with each other, unless it’s with somebody who we’ve built up a very high level of trust with. That’s part of the reason why we find ourselves in these really dark places or these difficult times, is because we bottle everything up for so long, in an attempt to show the world that we’re actually doing okay, we’re getting through it, and we don’t voice it out. Eventually, when that bottle or when that cup overflows, we have no other way to deal with it but to go to the other extreme. We can and we do. One of the things that we find with MEN-tality is, even with our branch, or our BrotherhoodDXBs, men are looking for places, and they’re looking for platforms, and they’re looking for people and spaces where they can sit and have these conversations, where they can share their stories, where they can exchange anecdotes, where they can actually understand that they’re not alone. We do talk about these things. It’s just, there aren’t many spaces or environments that we can go to to talk about this. It’s something that has been inherently bred in us from when we were young, because every time we wanted to be vulnerable, we’re told, man up, or you are boy, boys don’t cry, just all these kinds of things. It’s been built in us, but we just need to unlearn a lot of that. Again, after I learn and find the places where we can go to have the conversations.

I know women listening will be like, ‘No, I would listen’, but I don’t know that’s necessarily true in practice, that women do want to hear when you’re vulnerable, and your fears. Do you guys feel that?

Kori: I think on the very periphery, it’s made to seem that way, but there’s not a space for that. I think a lot of the times, the world doesn’t owe you any understanding. I think that’s actually for both sectors, but in particular, for men. We’re being whittled down to this laundry list of provisionings of what a man should be, and anything outside of that is not really taken into consideration. I think that vulnerable element, that element to be yourself, that element to speak your truth only exists in echo chambers. Whether that be BrotherhoodDXB in our men’s circles, or in our siloed conversations, but it’s not received well on a mass scale, although it’s loads of people out there that champion that. In reality, it often isn’t received very well.

Men say ‘I try to be myself with a woman, it doesn’t work very well’. People like Andrew Tate for example have become very popular by calling out a queen or princess culture. I wonder, do you feel that? 

Manny: I think men have been feeling that way for a long time. I think what’s highlighted even more is, ever since the dawn of feminism or new age feminism, third wave feminism, as we like to refer to it, is that we’ve been attacked and we’ve not had a voice for so long, that now, people like Andrew Tate, these people that are speaking out and standing up, are building arenas where we now feel like we can correlate to some of the things they’re saying. However, for me, that’s still a bit too extreme, there isn’t a middle ground. These people have stepped out and are cultivating a following of toxic masculinity, which doesn’t always build a bridge of harmony between the two sexes. That’s not what we need. We don’t need to go from one extreme to the other. We need to be able to work hand-in-hand and walk along a harmonious path. Yes, we have been attacked, and we are under attack, and we still are under attack, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to just pick up arms and go in the other direction. I think we need to cultivate, which is what we’re trying to do here. One of the main pillars of MEN-tality is actually trying to bridge a gap of difference between men and women so we can live more harmoniously together.

This bridging of the gap, first of all, just tell me how it all fits together.

Manny: Excellent. MEN-tality is basically an envelope platform that covers events, podcasts, as you mentioned, YouTube shows. We have a community, we have services that are associated to it. There are four main pillars. The first one is media, which is YouTube, Instagram, we do IG Lives, Reels, we’ve just recently started TikTok, and so on and so forth. We’re trying to get as much content out to the people that need it, as possible. We are developing and growing that. Then we have our services arm. Essentially, anyone who needs any help, needs to reach out, needs to sit down with a therapist, a psychologist, a coach, a mentor, PT, any services at all, that can speak to a man being a better version of himself, we have that under our services arm. Then our two main arms are our events and our community. We hold events every six to eight weeks, and the events differ. The last few events we’ve had have been open panel discussions where people can come sit, we have a panel, but the audience can contribute to the conversation. We talk about everything. I think our first one was, Men Don’t Cry, and the most recent one was titled, He’s Not Your Friend. Talking about whether or not men and women can be friends. Under the guise of friendship, can they really be platonic friends or not?

What kinds of things are you hearing from the men that you have drawn into your environment? 
Kori: Financial. They’re struggling financially and they’re struggling in relationships. I’ve seen a correlating theme in these two areas. Again, it goes back to the laundry list, because a lot of men ascribe to that being a provider. I think it sits in the top three, typically, across the board. If you’re going through financial troubles, and I know a lot of men have been, especially post-COVID, that can lead to you going down a negative spiral, whether that be with mental health conditions, such as depression and chronic stress, and things of that nature. Then also, relationships. How do you navigate those relationships? Even when you think about feminist ideation or ‘the modern woman’, to some degree, one, in some traditional values of a man, i.e. a leader, but they’re not being able to contain what comes as a byproduct of his leadership, maybe him being more dominant or being more assertive. It creates a massive disparity there, and doesn’t allow men to truly and authentically be themselves because they’re always second-guessing their actions, and the sentiments which proceeds those actions isn’t always received well, or even understood.
Manny: To expand on what Cory is saying, I think that there is the concept of identity crisis as well, and the fact that a lot of men place identities in more tangible things. Whether it be wealth, possession, the trophy woman, whatever the case may be. When these things are no longer available to them, or they don’t have access, then that crisis of not knowing who they really are deep down, causes them to start looking and searching for other things.

How do you talk to a man to help him express himself and to help this along? 

Manny: I find that the one thing that women are really good at doing is talking, not always listening. That’s what I would say, is, rather than learning to talk to him, learn to listen to him. Learn to listen to him beyond just the words that are coming out of his mouth, because as men, we’re so solution-orientated. Sometimes, we’ll say something just because it sounds good coming out. It doesn’t necessarily always reflect everything that we’re feeling inside. We build these walls to make everything looks rosy, and to hold back what’s actually behind. Listen to him. Really listen to him. In talking, ask him the questions that you need to ask for him to really go deep within. When you do that, you’ll realize that he’ll be more willing to open up to you when he realizes that his vulnerability is not put to one side. That you are actually willing to get on level ground with him.

What happens at your events?

Manny: We don’t sit down and hold hands and sing kumbaya, but it’s a safe environment. We sit around in a circle, cool people, and everyone has allocated time to really delve deep within. That allocate time could be anything from five minutes to 10 minutes. In that moment, nobody else speaks. We have hand gestures if we are feeling something, or if what you’re saying resonates with us, but no one speaks. It’s your moment, it’s all about you.
Kori: Men seeing other men speak gives them permission to do the same. I think that’s something that is very rare, because again, all of this, all of our vulnerabilities exist in echo chambers and a lot of times in our solo suit. Whether that be, I don’t know, for example, in the shower or in somewhere in your car driving somewhere, and it really starts to fester and come to you. A big part of what we do is normalizing these things.

• Where to find MEN-tality: The Men-tality Pod on Youtube; @men_talitypodcast on Instagram and through BrotherhoodDXB via Meetup.

Ann Marie McQueen

Ann Marie McQueen is the founding editor-in-chief of Livehealthy and host of The Livehealthy Podcast. She is a veteran Canadian digital journalist who has worked in North America and the Middle East. Her past roles include features editor for The National, trends writer and columnist for the Canadian newspaper chain Sun Media, and correspondent for CBC Radio.

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