DMU student aims to break down the 'wall of masculinity' in mental health


A student from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) is fighting the social stigma of mental health by encouraging others to speak up and ‘achieve the unimaginable.’ 

Josh Hobbs always knew ‘something was wrong’ as a shy teenager but he struggled to come to terms with his feelings partly because of his masculine pride.

Josh Hobbs MAIN 1

The second-year Economics student eventually faced his fears and sought help for his mental health issues. In doing so, he has transformed his life and is now enjoying great success at university.

He has even put his improved confidence and self-esteem to good use by securing a year-long placement at Volkswagen Financial Services – something he says he could not have faced without going to his GP and undertaking therapy.

Josh, 21, said: “Unfortunately there is still shame attached to mental illness, so I hope my story will encourage others to get the help they need as everyone deserves to be happy.

“There’s this reluctance to get help, especially among young men, like me, who hide behind a wall of masculinity. Men think it makes them look weak and goes against the expected male image.

 “I really believe the more we talk about mental health, the more we help to break the stigma.

 “Before I tackled my mental health, I was looking past my own potential. I couldn’t focus, I had no motivation and I didn’t think I was capable of anything. I’d almost reached rock bottom.

“But I am proof that there are people who can help you and make you feel so much better about yourself.

“I am now achieving things that I never thought I would be able to. I’m definitely proud of myself, I’m on the up and I am thinking about the future.”

Josh Hobbs MAIN

Josh, who is from Northamptonshire, described himself as a ‘quiet and shy person with low self-esteem’ who was ‘not the most confident in social environments.’

He says he struggled to come to terms with deep-rooted thoughts about himself and everything came to a head in the summer of 2015 after his A-Level exams.

With the support of his family and friends, he went to see his GP and was diagnosed with depression and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

He underwent Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) throughout the first year of his degree – returning home every two weeks for therapy sessions.

He also sought one-to-one help and support from DMU’s Counselling Service, where he said he learnt to express himself and talk about issues for the first time.

Josh said: “It’s helped so much, I’ve learnt to control my thoughts and emotions and I’m now in a great place.

“My problem was that I kept it quiet for so long then things imploded. I always knew there was something wrong, I just didn’t want to face it.

“Everything had just built up over time, then after my A-Levels I just knew I had to get help – I had to do it for myself to move forward.

“I’m now a lot more comfortable with myself and my feelings. Having the freedom of being at university away from home and having so much support from DMU has been a huge help.”


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Josh chose to study at DMU for the ‘scope of opportunities’ and secured his Volkswagen placement after a rigorous selection process, which included interviews and an assessment centre.

He has been working as a vehicle forecasting analyst in the asset risk department at the car manufacturer’s financial services headquarters in Milton Keynes since June last year.  This has helped him decide that he would like a future career that combines his practical and creative skills.

Josh said: “I was absolutely ecstatic when I was offered the job; I really wanted to do a placement as part of my course as it’s so important to learn about business.

“It’s been a very interesting and positive experience, and I’ve learnt a great deal more than industry skills.

“I’ve also learnt what is essential in a working environment, those all-important skills around work ethic and team work.”

He added: “Securing this placement has showed me how far I have come in such a short period of time. I’m achieving the unimaginable.”

Posted on Thursday 21st June 2018

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