Men and their Mental Health

Men are known for bottling things up. They frequently have thoughts such as “ I don’t want to bother others” or “its not anyone else’s business”.  The problem is that this mentality is significantly contributing to Australia’s increasing rate of Mental Health issues in men (ASHW, 2012). Research has shown that only 12 per cent of adolescent boys and 35 per cent of adult men with mental health problems actually seek help (Slade et al., 2009). In addition to the low rates of men seeking treatment from GPs and other health professionals, men are also less likely to have strong social networks. (Riccardelli, et al. 2012).  This is a problem, as isolation is one factor that has been identified as a significant risk for Mental Health conditions (Wilson 2007).

The problem is complex. There are many cultural, and practical barriers to men openly discussing their feelings with other men.  The stigma of mental health issues, being seen as week or less than a man, not wanting to bother others, long work hours, and isolated living conditions all contribute to the problem.

 

What can I do if I am struggling?

If you are a male suffering with emotional and mental health issues, the thought of opening up and talking to someone can be daunting. Staying silent, however, can often result in more issues including increased feelings of isolation and worsened symptoms.  It is important to consider your options. You don’t have to suffer alone. To help manage what you are feelings you can:

  • Catch up with a mate: Most men don’t want to seek help from a professional. they are more likely, however to approach a friend or family member about emotional difficulties (Riccardelli, et al. 2012).  Having this time with our mates is critical to our wellbeing. Spending time talking with your mates in person is best, even if it’s just a quick check-in, a coffee, or a quiet beer.
  • Keep in contact with social networks regularly: If it’s hard to meet up with your mates, even texting a mate to say g’day can help make you, and them, feel more connected.
  • Seek professional support: When circumstances are such that access to social networks are difficult, then it is important to know that there are still services out there that can help.  Services such as Beyond Blue can help you have these types of discussions and get the most out of your consult with a Health professional.some other links are Man Therapy and Man Up.

 

How can I help my mate , partner or husband?

  • Tell them you are worried about them: If you know someone who may be struggling with Mental Health issues you can help by initiating the conversations yourself.  Many people avoid these conversations for fear of starting something they can’t handle, or saying the wrong thing and making it worse. It’s important to remember, you just have to listen to them. Make your concerns known and the hear what they have to say.
  • Normalise what they are feeling (let’s be honest, we all feel it too sometimes!): Knowing we are not alone and especially for men, knowing they are not “weak”  or “soft” is a crucial step in being able to seek help and dealing with difficult thoughts, emotions and situation. Providing this reassurance can be incredibly important to providing them with much needed support.
  • Encourage them to seek help: Be there to support and encourage them to seek help to access professional support if needed, whether this be from their GP, a Psychologist or another registered treating professional.

 

During Men’s Health Week (10-16 June 2019) it is important to check in with the Men in our lives to ensure they are not only going ok, but feel like they have options if they were not ok. Men’s Health Week is about being aware of the environments that contribute to poor men’s heath and how we can turn this around to create positive environments support health and wellness. There are many ways you can look out for you and your mates, it is being aware of the problem and being as open about it as possible that counts.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help please contact the Suicide Call back Service on 1300 654 467 or Life Line on 13 11 14.  Alternatively you can also call 000.