Men's Mental HealthHow do you look after your mental health?
Talking about Men’s mental health.Talking about mental health with men can be tricky. Traditional masculine stereotypes and cultural expectations make assumptions about men that aren’t always helpful and may be a contributory factor in some men choosing not to discuss or seek help for mental health problems.Some researchers have also suggested that men may experience mood disorders like depression differently to women, with symptoms of irritability or anger, poor impulse control, increased risk taking and substance misuse predominating. These behaviours, sometimes referred to as “acting out” rather than “acting in”, can make approaching and speaking to the person experiencing them difficult and intimidating. They may also be harder for both you and the person to recognise as a potential symptom of mental illness, another barrier to accessing support.If you are concerned about a friend or family member, the most important thing you can do is be there for them. Many people feel that we should be encouraging more men to form deeper bonds within their male peer groups, and we agree, but if someone is suffering it is ultimately unimportant what the gender of the supporter is. Changing ingrained societal cultures does not happen quickly and currently, many men feel more able to be honest about their feelings with women. Ultimately what gives someone the confidence to open up is being listened to non judgementally and empathetically. We can all be that person.
Q&A with Brian Whitfield – singing and me
We interviewed Brian to find out about how be part of a choir helped his mental health and how singing has changed his life.
- 76% of suicides are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35 in the UK
- 12.5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders
- Men are a lot less likely to access psychological therapies than women, with only 36% of referrals being men, reflecting the suffering in silence
Data from www.safeline.org.uk
This content never goes out of date. Please do listen to this brilliant conversation between Tony Sigrist and Josh Connelly where they discuss the tricky subject of anger.
Tips on how to have a great conversation
Find the right time
Nothing shuts down a conversation down more quickly than someone who’s trying to get away. If you’re pressed for time be honest. “I really want to talk to you but I have a meeting I must get to and you deserve my attention. Would it be ok if we meet up at lunchtime?
Find the right place
A few things to consider. Are there any distractions, can we be overheard, will we be interrupted, is it comfortable? Sitting face to face to talk about something personal can be difficult and many people prefer to walk and talk. This has the added bonus of being able to get into the fresh air and, where possible, connect with nature, both of which are known to have positive effects on mental health!
Listening properly is hard work. We aren’t as naturally attuned to listening as talking and as a consequence we commonly fall into conversation “shut downs” without meaning to. If you are really listening you will avoid some of the following well-intentioned but ultimately unhelpful traps
- Trying to fix it – What you need to do is ……
- Trying to silver line it – Well at least you haven’t/have ……
- Elephant bagging it* – That happened to me/someone else and it was much worse!
Empathise not sympathise
Avoid feeling sorry for someone and try to truly understand and share their feelings.
Understand your limits
Supporting someone who is struggling isn’t easy, particularly if we aren’t in the best place ourselves. Knowing when to end and escalate a conversation that’s getting difficult is just as important as knowing how to start one. If you are really worried about someone, listen to your instincts and seek professional help. The following numbers are useful if someone is experiencing a mental health crisis.
Mental Health and Young Men
- In adult diagnosed mental illness, around 75% of problems will have an origin in the teenage years.
- An incredible 50% will begin even sooner, before the age of 14.
- Incidents of both self-reported and diagnosable mental ill health amongst young people are increasing and the provision of professional support cannot meet demand.
Where to go for help
Being able to identify the signs and symptoms is the start of helping. Mental Health First Aid gives you the knowledge and confidence to start and conversation and help someone at the very moment you need it.
Contact ABC Life Support to find out more – email email@example.com.