Men Have Feelings Too - Men and Mental Health - Continuing the Conversation


Many of us trust Matt Clifton, pictured here, behind the tea cup, with our lives. Matt is an IT expert, a wizard under the hood of lots of computers, tablets, smartphones, and other sorts of devices. Matt is an open advocate for mental health awareness, and speaks about it in his social media. Sometimes he highlights men’s mental health, reminding us that men can suffer from depression too.

In this time of Smash The Patriarchy, it can be hard to remember that men can be soft - despite their stubble, stubborn ways, and sometimes opposite ways of understanding women. It is nice to have a friend be open and honest about his life experiences, which include emotions one might not guess upon speaking with him in person.

We’ll share with you here Matt’s big message for May, Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s comforting that despite his jovial, good friend, generally cheery nature, social anxiety can take him over. As a young person (and sometimes today), I remember feeling so shy around certain groups of people, that I would have trouble walking. Being in the mall was the worst. Recess could be tough. I just wanted to hide. Today when I go to the Beacon High School track to jog, or to soccer practice/games for my son, it’s a conquering-my-fears type of thing because I was too afraid to ever go to high school football games in the stadium.

Today I have a young son who is also shy. Looking at him, I can’t see the shyness, or understand it. He’s just so cute and fun! Yet his fears are real when we first start a new group activity, like soccer or camp. Nudging him out of the nest is important, but it’s also important to acknowledge his fear, to let him know we know, and it’s OK to have a hard time. I remind myself to be patient, and to tap into the feelings I know very well.

I’ll let Matt take it away from here:



I’m Matt and I have general anxiety, social anxiety and depression. This is something I’ve had all my adult life - I first started experiencing severe social anxiety at university, which continued through my 20s. It affected my social and professional life. Some days at the office, I’d get panic attacks and have to hide in the bathroom just to breathe. I found noisy and crowded bars and social engagements almost unbearable. I didn’t talk to family or friends about my feelings, and I didn’t go to therapy until my late 30s, but I did find it helped me - even though my issues are not based in any kind of trauma, just talking about them allowed me to define what I was feeling, and not let them define who I was.

I also now take Prozac, which is an SSRI. I go to occasional yoga classes, which help me most by getting me focused on the movements and getting out of my own head! I try to be mindful throughout the day as much as I’m able to, to keep myself in the moment and not dwell on the past or worry about the future.

I’m a freelance IT consultant, as well as a serious science-fiction nerd, and have a really great life in the Hudson Valley, New York, with my wife Emily, dog Arya, and assorted cats and chickens. We run a cooking blog called Nerds with Knives and it’s really become a huge and fun part of our lives. I would like to be better at baking. I drink a lot of tea.

I’m very proud of the life I’ve made for myself, and the steps I’ve taken to get myself to a better place addressing my mental health. I’m not so embarrassed at talking about it any more. You wouldn’t be able to tell that I have mental health issues. You might just think I’m a little quiet. Most days I’m doing great, but I still have a lot of trouble in social situations.

If you’re struggling with the same issues, you might be surprised to know there are way more people who are sharing that struggle with you. You’re not alone. Mental health issues aren’t a failing of character. And there are people who love you. You can always text NAMI to 741741 to get help from trained counselors.

NAMI Ribbons hung in Beacon each year.  Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

NAMI Ribbons hung in Beacon each year.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Matt’s mention of NAMI reminds us of another reason to be grateful for the Rock Out 4 Mental Health concert. I had seen the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) ribbons each year, on trees around Beacon, but had never looked into what they were about. By being on the Planning Committee for the event, I sat next to someone from NAMI’s Mid-Hudson affiliate almost every Tuesday in the Spring, as we held our planning meetings.

We’re looking forward to meeting more people at the concert, and absorbing more of what is available.

When A Stranger Walks Through Your Door - Who Needs Mental Health Help - And The Concert Is Saturday


Last Friday, while in the midst of our weekly deadline for getting out the Happening This Weekend newsletter, a woman walked into A Little Beacon Blog's office, looking for help. She thought it was the substance abuse center, Lexington Center for Recovery (though she couldn’t remember the name and had contact information for a totally different organization), that had been located down Main Street, that is now becoming an apartment building. She saw the Rock Out 4 Mental Health flyer on our door, and the logos of mental health agencies who are helping make it happen, and thought she was in the right place.

She hadn't slept for days. Her accent was unfamiliar. The urgent problem she was trying to get help for - keeping her husband alive (he was currently in the hospital after almost dying of alcoholism, and she feared him coming home because she didn't know what to do with him to keep him safe) - made it so that she talked very fast, with hopelessness. Her sentences zig-zagged with what she needed, making it hard to find a thread to follow to work on a solution. She'd given up hope of finding help from Beacon and any other resource, and didn't know where to go.

Sometimes a situation happens, and you ask yourself: "Am I to be learning something from this? What is the message?" It became an opportunity for us to navigate the world of mental health resources, with a real person, really suffering. A Little Beacon Blog agreed to help with the Rock Out 4 Mental Health concert because it was an opportunity to meet the players, to talk to the people on the other side of the phone or email or website. To make them more real, and understand what they offer. That concert happens this Saturday (unless it rains, then it’ll be on Sunday) at Pete and Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park from 12 to 4 pm. It's free, and there will be mozzarella sticks (and other food like sausage), live music, and specialists in the areas of mental health.

Meanwhile, back in the office on a Friday afternoon of Memorial Weekend, we called the Dutchess County Help Line. They answered, but our questions quickly multiplied. When you're at the beginning of a research journey navigating hospitals, counseling, rehab centers, it's a lot. We called a personal friend who works deep in the world of mental health, and she quickly referred us to Family Services in Beacon on Henry Street, and to the MHA in the DMV Building on Main Street, and to Grace Smith House if the woman felt too afraid to be home, plus they may be able to give her guidance if she were to go there. Another friend recommended NAMI if she needed an advocate or counselor to help her navigate the medical areas where she was encountering hurdles, while trying to figure out what to do with her addicted husband who had just had a blood transfusion and was a hot potato in the hospital - she didn't want him released, yet they were done with their medical procedures.

In the end - for that hour - we encouraged her to walk to Family Services which is nearby, and see what they tell her next. In-person research is so important. We then highly encouraged her to go home and get some rest, because sleep deprivation causes its own problems. She first headed across the street to the grocery store to get cat food, and then to Family Services. Hopefully she felt a little more hope in her quest.

Come to the concert this weekend. You'll get to hear The Costellos, Noetic, Dilson Hernandez, Tony E., Charge the Mound, Russ St. George, Jerry Kitzrow, DJ Big Will, with sound by Tony ‘Pops’ DeMarco. You never know when you or someone you know or don't know needs these services. It's comforting to put faces to organizations.

Several Sponsors Sign On To Support Rock Out 4 Mental Health Concert In Beacon In June

The Roundhouse of Beacon has signed on as the Title Sponsor for the Rock Out 4 Mental Health summer concert, happening on Saturday, June 1, 2019. This show of support for the first year of this event is a big help to getting T-shirts made and helping to make this event possible. One of the first events of its kind, Rock Out 4 Mental Health aims to remove stigma around mental health needs by bringing people physically closer to the resources and services that are available to them in Dutchess County.

Thank you to the rest of the sponsors who have come on thus far, including Gold Level sponsor Key Foods, and Bronze Level Sponsors Aryeh Siegel, Architect; Bob's Auto Repair in Wingdale, N.Y.; HealthQuest; Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union; Premier Medical Group; People USA; and Tin Shingle.

Only five more Gold Level spots are available, and a handful of Silver Level sponsor spots if you want to get your business behind this event! Click here for details.

Wellness Providers As Vendors At Concert

Vendor spots for wellness providers are still available, and the concert attendees need to know about you! If you are a wellness provider, you can book your spot online here. Food vendors are also welcome! This is a great way to meet new people. There are limited spaces, so do it now.

So far, you’ll be able to interact with the following groups: Astor Services for Children & Families, CAPE, Children's Home of Poughkeepsie, CoveCare Center, Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health, Empire Concessions, I Am Beacon, Innate Chiropractic (Wappingers Falls), NAMI Mid-Hudson, and People USA.

Getting closer to the big day! It has been a pleasure being on the Planning Committee for this event, and we’re looking forward experiencing the day.

New Summer Concert Unites Mental Health Resources With Community | Top Sponsor & Vendor Spots Available Now!

The “Rock Out 4 Mental Health” flyer. Room for sponsor logos if you sign up in time!

The “Rock Out 4 Mental Health” flyer. Room for sponsor logos if you sign up in time!

When Brandon Lillard, a founding board member of I Am Beacon, and best known by Beacon High School alums as the original “Mr. Beacon High,” asked me to be part of the planning for I Am Beacon’s second major awareness project for mental health, the ”Rock Out 4 Mental Health” Concert on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at Pete and Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park, I said yes immediately.

As a mother of young children, I want to make sure they have a safe space to express their minds. As a new mother in general, I see and experience the mental health challenges that any parent faces. As a person living in Beacon, I have learned from my friends involved in mental health support about challenges that any person can face at any time. Removing the stigma about that is important to me, and as a blogger, I want to improve awareness of mental health support services that are available locally. That’s part of why I started A Little Beacon Blog - to get the word out about what is happening and available here.

The planning for this event would be fast, but we could do it. I Am Beacon’s first outreach project for mental health awareness was and continues to be the yellow ribbons campaign on Main Street, carried out with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Mid-Hudson. You’ll be seeing those ribbons again this year.

Bringing Resources and People Closer Together Through Music

This concert was created as a vibrant and hopeful hub where people can get closer to organizations who provide a variety of mental health services. The aim is to bring these services to people who may not have otherwise known about them. Usually service events like this are at school functions on a random Wednesday night (I went to one!). Now, the whole family can come and enjoy being by the Hudson River rocking out to music, and getting to know these local services who have changed the lives of so many.

You’ll be rocking out to The Costellos, Noetic, Tony E., Dilson Hernandez, and Charge the Mound while your Co-MCs for the day, Reuben Simmons and Himali Pandya, Special Projects Manager for Astor Services for Children and Families, introduce you to the mental health resource providers who are available to meet during the day. (Insider scoop: Himali’s husband will be performing with his band at the concert)

Here’s Where Your Part Comes In

“Rock Out 4 Mental Health” is currently seeking the following sponsor and vendor opportunities, but time is limited. We will be putting sponsors on the flyer, then printing it and distributing it, so we need to know who’s in for sponsorship! My design agency, Katie James, Inc. and lead designer Allie Bopp designed the flyer, banner, logo and other branding assets, so I have a tiny say on when these go to print (but we can’t wait long!).

Title Sponsor: Only one spot available. The Title Sponsor gets their logo on the banner that will be hanging above Main Street as we get closer to the event, and on T-shirts. We can only print T-shirts if we have a title sponsor. Will your business be the reason we can make the shirts? Claim it here >
Must sign up within the week for print deadline!

Gold Sponsor: Only six available. These sponsors get their logos printed on the flyer, which will be distributed in Beacon and beyond. Logo also included on the event program. Claim it here >
Must sign up within the week for print deadline!

Silver Sponsor: More available, and includes logo on the event website. You have a bit more time on this one, since we are adding your logo to the “Rock Out 4 Mental Health” website. Claim it here >

Bronze Sponsor: Awesomeness. Great for businesses who want to show their support for Mental Health awareness and accessibility. Claim it here >

Vendor Opportunities: Food vendors are welcome, and businesses who provide a wellness-related product or service to people are invited to have a vendor spot down at Pete and Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park. Only 15-20 spots available. Food and business vendors can register here. Nonprofit organizations can have a spot for free and can register here.

These community projects are what keep Beacon enriched with the depth of community it is known for, and keep Beacon an ongoing advocate for people’s well-being.

Thank you to the following sponsors and vendors who have signed on so far!


Astor Services for Children & Families
Children's Home of Poughkeepsie
NAMI Mid-Hudson
CoveCare Center
DC Dept of Behavioral & Community Health
People USA
Empire Concessions
I Am Beacon


Premier Medical Group
MidHudson Valley Federal Credit Union
People USA

Why This Concert? Why Now?

When it comes to Mental Health, it is our belief that the Hudson Valley is ‘services-rich yet information-poor.’ Despite the valiant efforts of many organizations, there is a lack of awareness and knowledge which result in many in our community being left to suffer in silence.
— Mission Statement of Rock Out 4 Mental Health

One of the creators behind the event is Reuben Simmons, a founding board member of I Am Beacon, along with his sister, Brooke Simmons, and Brandon Lillard. Reuben grew up in Beacon, volunteering to clean up its streets in his youth, and co-created I Am Beacon to keep opportunities like this available to the people.


Says Reuben of the inspiration to create the “Rock Out 4 Mental Health” concert: “After attending the City of Beacon’s Workshop in December 2018 which discussed the opioid crisis in our area, I felt an obligation as a community leader to do more. I have attended many conferences all over the country in my time as a labor leader, and heard the opioid crisis happening in many communities all over. Hearing the same issues from professionals like Beacon’s Police Chief and Dutchess County’s Behavior and Community Department at the workshop got me to start brainstorming on what could be done to help. Help promote services, help end the stigma, help educate people.”

Helpline For Everyone

“We hope to reach as many Dutchess County residents as possible to inform them about the many resources available for help and support. The Dutchess County Helpline and the Stabilization Center are available to residents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is always someone available who can help,” says Jean-Marie Niebuhr, Prevention and Harm Reduction Coordinator.

If you take anything away from this event, or knowing about this event, know this: The Dutchess County Helpline. Available to anyone to use at any time, 24/7. Use it as an information center to find other resources: CALL or TEXT 845-485-9700.

Call or text any time to talk live to a qualified mental health professional. Regardless of the issue, the HELPLINE will provide counseling or link you to services.