Kenny Mammarella D’Cruz: Words of Wisdom from The Man Whisperer

Watch the FULL Podcast Interview with Excluded UK’s Founder Anneka Hicks on ‘Why She Had to Leave and Fighting For The 3 Million’

Please be aware that this article and the accompanying podcast episode contain discussion of mental health struggles. If you’re struggling, please reach out urgently to one of the UK’s many free crisis support services (or equivalent in your country.)

We’ve talked about mental health a lot over the last year, and for good reason. Many people have suffered tremendously due to the pandemic, whether from the virus itself or from the social isolation and economic insecurity it has caused. 

Talking about mental health and struggles can be challenging, and this is often particularly true for men. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that does not encourage men to open up about their feelings. 

But one man is on a mission to change that. As we mark the one year anniversary of lockdown this week, editor Marc chatted with Kenny Mammarella D’Cruz, also known as The Man Whisperer, about his vital work in the area of men’s mental health.

Listen to the FULL Interview Here

“Taking responsibility for emotions, holding it together, and putting on a good show.” 

Kenny’s Story

Kenny was born in Uganda. When he was eight years old, his father was declared an enemy of the stage by Idi Amin’s secret service and received a phone call warning him “we’re going to come and kill you tonight.”

The family fled to the UK, and were reunited with Kenny’s father 9 months later when he was smuggled to Italy and eventually allowed into the UK. The family settled in a small town in Wales and worked to rebuild their lives. 

“We were pretty much the first non-white people to move to this town, and the people were wonderful,” Kenny remembers. “They taught us about community caring.” The neighbours helped redecorate their house, taught them to cook and clean, and made them feel welcome with their community spirit. 

This period was when Kenny began to struggle with his own mental health, suffering from OCD, eating disorders, depression, suicidal ideation, trichotillomania (hair pulling) and dermatillomania (skin gouging.) 

“I was a boy pretending to be a man,” he says. “Taking responsibility for emotions, holding it together, and putting on a good show.” 

You can read the full story of Kenny’s extraordinary childhood and adolescence here

“People’s business stories are an extension of their personal stories and personal belief systems.”

The Man Whisperer

Kenny has been holding men’s groups for around 20 years. He is clear that he is not a doctor or psychotherapist, and many of his clients also also work with healthcare professionals. Instead, the groups focus on talking and creating a safe place for men to open up to one another. 

“What is it inside of you that needs to come out and express itself?” he asks rhetorically, explaining the philosophy at the heart of his work. “I believe that when people are on purpose and in alignment with themselves, then life supports them.” 

The core of Kenny’s work is summed up in two words: I am. He believes that coming from this place of deep self-knowledge and comfort with oneself allows us to come into our own power and then empower others in turn. People often pretend to be something they’re not, particularly in the age of social media, but worrying about what other people think alienates us from ourselves. 

He believes this can apply to business, too. “People’s business stories are an extension of their personal stories and personal belief systems.”

“So we went into isolation and it was perhaps the second day when I noticed I was looking out at the road and expecting to see the military…

COVID, Lockdown, and Beyond

At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Kenny and his wife were on their way home from the theatre when he received a text message that a colleague was showing symptoms of the virus. 

“So we went into isolation and it was perhaps the second day when I noticed I was looking out at the road and expecting to see the military, because that’s what I was used to from Uganda,” he says. “We had a curfew and if they decided to turn on people, they’d beat people up, put them in prison, shoot them. If people were talking on the streets, it could be seen as a conspiracy against the government.” 

Kenny describes the early days of lockdown as like listening to the silent spaces between gunfire, except the gunfire didn’t come. This reaction is what is known as a flashback and is a common response to trauma that can be extremely distressing. 

Kenny realised that if his past traumas had been triggered by the lockdown, others were bound to be experiencing something similar. He is now working with groups of men via daily online check-ins. 

Many of Kenny’s clients are self-employed and business owners in a wide variety of industries who have been struggling for much of the last year. He explains that many men retreat into feelings of shame, feeling as though they cannot discuss their problems, or fall into the trap of blaming themselves or other people. He helps men to “feel their feelings but not be taken over by them, and choose how to respond.” 

Many experts have suggested that the mental health fallout from the pandemic will be at least as destructive as the virus itself. Kenny believes that it will be the next chapter. People have faced many challenges over the last year, whether in the form of illness, grief, economic problems, or extended isolation, and the effects will still be felt as we slowly emerge from lockdown. Our lives, our workplaces, and the economy will likely be changed for good. 

The Man Whisperer, Kenny Mammarella-D’Cruz where we talk about male mental health business, masculinity in the business world and his very unique perspective of lockdown and how it helped him, help men in business during it. YBKBS Small Business News for Smart Business Owners
The Man Whisperer, Kenny Mammarella-D’Cruz
Words of Wisdom

When asked about his best kept business secret, Kenny talks about knowing his own shadow – naming and acknowledging jealousy, fear, and “I need to know the parts of me that I’m scared that other people see, and I need to show them. Because once I’ve named it, I can change my relationship to it.” 

Kenny is a big believer in teamwork and collaboration over competition, and emphasises the importance of people supporting one another. He says that the old way of doing business often involved bullying and strict hierarchy, whereas the new approach involves more listening, more self-management, and is less hierarchical in nature. 

When we know ourselves and understand our missions, we can take action more effectively. Kenny talks about doing through awareness to create something, rather than doing through fear. 

He says that he feels as though everything he has experienced throughout his life set him up to get through the last year, and that things now make sense which never have before. Thanks to his own experiences, he has been able to help and support people through this (yes, we’re going to use that word) unprecedented time.

“It’s time for collaboration, transparency, caring, and sharing,” he says. Amen to that.

Do you have a story?

Do you have a small business success story from the COVID-19 era? Drop us a line if so – we’d love to talk to you.

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Kenny Mammarella D’Cruz: Words of Wisdom from The Man Whisperer

Talking about mental health and struggles can be challenging, and this is often particularly true for men. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that does not encourage men to open up about their feelings.  But one man is on a mission to change that. As we mark the one year anniversary of lockdown this week, editor Marc chatted with Kenny Mammarella D’Cruz, also known as The Man Whisperer, about his vital work in the area of men’s mental health.

  

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Jess Amy Dixon is a freelance journalist, writer, editor, and social media manager based in the East Midlands. She helps clients grow their businesses via the written word, whether that’s through marketing copy, blog content, or social media posts. She’s also working on her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Winchester, and has won prizes for short fiction.