Irish actor Andrew Scott talks about men’s mental health as he collaborates with HUMEN Charity’s Rise Against Suicide Sunrise Walk in the UK.
Andrew Scott doesn’t always play the finest characters on screen – he’s known for malevolent roles such as Moriarty in Sherlock and Max Denby in ghost – But this really couldn’t be further from the truth.
The actor is generous with his time and ideas, despite calling from Italy where he currently works 12 hours a day filming a new project.
Scott, 45, says he considers mental health similar to the weather. “The weather is fickle,” he says. “If you’re in the rain, there’s no point in shouting into the sky saying, ‘Please stop the rain, please stop the rain. The best thing you can do is just accept the rain, and know that it will stop.'”
For the Dublin-born star, a big factor in the male mental health crisis is society’s perceived expectations of men, to be ‘manly’ and to have a solid upper lip. He ponders: “I think it’s about weakness.” “Expressing vulnerability is something that is in a way considered a ‘feminine’ trait – but I think vulnerability is a wonderful trait in a person.”
“There is a real stigma around how we deal with mental illness,” Scott continues. “None of us would say, ‘I’ve never been physically ill’—and in exactly the same way, it seems to me implausible to say that we’ve never had any mental illness.
“I think we associate mental health with needing to go somewhere or having to take medication, or being diagnosed with something. But I think we have to understand that it’s in the scope of .communication.”
Particularly as a result of the pandemic and what we’ve all been through in recent times, Scott argues that now is a “good time to start talking,” as most of us have experienced – to some extent – feelings we may have “never felt” before, including “lack of control and fear.” .
Scott likes to talk about mental health “with a certain degree of lightness,” he said. “There is a duality that exists… It seems strange to me to say that, but as long as you can be light on your darkness, I believe that you [going to be] Okay.”
He admits it sounds “nonsense,” but we need “a sense of humor about the fact that we all deal with it somehow. And to say, that’s okay. No one said it was going to be easy all the time.”
Celebrating his theme, Scott continues, “That’s why sometimes funerals are more fun than weddings, because sometimes people have that dreaded feeling, you have to be happy, and it’s very relative. We live in such an age. Compared with the means Socializing, sometimes at a funeral – don’t go to someone and go, ‘Oh my God, you look horrible,’ if they have mascara dripping on their face, because you’re not worried. So people say, ‘I’m here, I’m a mess.’ It’s OK to cry.” And sometimes we feel incredibly connected.”
Scott says laughter is key to maintaining his mental health. “I try to laugh every day,” he says excitedly. “It’s a human trait – animals, as much as I love them, don’t laugh as much as we do. Sometimes I think we can roughly measure someone’s humanity by how much they laugh every day and how much they are able to appreciate laughter.”
“[Sometimes you have to say] It’s all ridiculous, it doesn’t end well for any of us – we’re all going to die. So in a way, you have to laugh as much as you can – that’s definitely my attitude, as I move on in life. “
Scott says exercise is also central to his mental well-being (“without a doubt”). Despite his grueling filming schedule in Italy, while all he might want to do is sit at the end of a long day and eat pasta, he says, “I really think it’s key. With exercise, people think, ‘Oh my God, I have to be really fit or… I join a gym, but there’s nothing I love more than going for a walk with someone.”
“Walking may feel ‘very 2020,’ but there’s something so beautiful about going for a walk with someone, because you can talk about things but you don’t really face each other,” Scott says. That’s why the HUMEN charity supports Rise Against Suicide Sunrise Walk, Which aims to “inspire more men to get active and talk”.
There is another reason why Scott loves simple walks. “I love inappropriate events,” he says. “I like the day after the wedding or accidentally get drunk on a Tuesday afternoon with your friends. Sometimes you can have really meaningful conversations to go for a walk — or hysterical conversations. Life happens in the middle, because there’s no pressure.”