Un­der­stand­ing black dog


A group of young men are tack­ling the chal­leng­ing top­ics of men­tal health - and men’s tackle.

Hamil­ton man Richard Gra­ham, 33, is a mem­ber of the Sky­walker Apoca­lypse Char­i­ta­ble Trust which aims to help young peo­ple through ed­u­ca­tion.

The group’s first col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort, The P_N_S Book, was pub­lished in 2012 and reads like an in­struc­tion man­ual, an­swer- ing all the awk­ward ques­tions boys and young men might have about their pe­nis. Dis­cus­sion points in­clude wet dreams, erec­tions and per­sonal hy­giene.

There’s also an in­for­ma­tive piece on where young men shouldn’t stick their male mem­bers, such as bot­tles and spa jet holes. The trust’s fol­low-up ef­fort, The Black Dog Book, is de­scribed as an es­sen­tial guide to men­tal health.

Gra­ham said he and his friends started writ­ing the first book af­ter hear­ing school teach­ers lament the lack of teach­ing re­sources on male health and sex­u­al­ity.

‘‘The P_N_S Book is es­sen­tially the kind of book we wish we’d had when we were young men,’’ Gra­ham said.

‘‘It’s a book that en­ables boys and young men to start hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion on what can be a dif­fi­cult topic.’’

The Black Dog Book fol­lows a sim­i­lar for­mat, us­ing car­toons and en­gag­ing text to tackle is­sues such as de­pres­sion, pos­i­tive think­ing and mindfulness. Gra­ham said the men­tal health and well­be­ing of young peo­ple is an is­sue close to his heart.

He and his friends knew of sev­eral peo­ple who took their own lives dur­ing their teenage years. The books have been dis­trib­uted to 10 Waikato sec­ondary schools, thanks to a fund­ing grant from the DV Bryant Trust. The trust’s ul­ti­mate goal is to of­fer the books free to schools na­tion­wide.

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