Updated: Jun 22, 2021
To mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week we thought we would take the opportunity to talk about men's mental health, sharing important information, statistics and ways you can help.
We are slowly starting to see more conversations open up in regards to mental health and fortunately in the last few years it's become less of a taboo topic. However, the subject still undoubtedly has a lot of stigma surrounding it and many are apprehensive to seek help or talk out about their experiences with their mental health as a result of this.
It's safe to say mental health problems don't discriminate against any age, gender, race or background but the subject of mens mental health in particular is still very much unspoken about, making it all the more important to shine a light on it.
Unfortunately, gender norms and the idea of masculinity amidst modern society means many men feel they have to live up to societal standards of being viewed as 'tough' and 'strong', in many cases resulting in some men feeling as though they can't open up about their struggles and seek help in fear of being labelled as 'weak' or 'unmanly.'
In a survey conducted by 'Priory' it was found that 40% of men said it would take them having thoughts of suicide or self-harm before they eventually turned to professional help. Moreover, recent statistics showed devastating figures which calculated that just over three out of four suicides (76%) were in fact committed by men. In addition, it was revealed that suicide was the single biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45.
These alarming suicide statistics directly link to the stigma and hesitation for men to talk about their feelings, many feeling their only solution is to turn to irreversible measures as opposed to seeking professional help or advice. It was also found that a lot of men tend to turn to substances such as drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with stress and anxiety. This can have a worsening affect on their mental health and well-being as well as well as it sometimes causing a string of other mental health related problems such as addiction and substance abuse.
These devastating facts highlight how imperative it is that there are resources easily accessible for men to turn to if they are ever in need of support or assistance. Moreover, its key that others take the time to educate themselves on the matter to ensure they can provide help and support if and when it's needed of them.
It was reported that 39% of men felt that when they opened up about their mental health in the past they were greeted with a disappointing reaction, making them less likely to share their feelings again in the future.
It can be incredibly hard to know how to support a loved-one struggling with their mental health and it's key that first and foremost you take care of yourself both emotionally and physically, ensuring you don't take on the sole responsibility of someone else's problems. However, there are small things you can do to help.
You don't always need to give groundbreaking advice and in all honesty there will be times where you're unsure on how to respond but sometimes just letting a loved-one know that you're there for them and happy to listen can be just as powerful, if not more impactful. Moreover, sometimes you may not be able to understand or relate to what the other person is going though but try not to invalidate the others thoughts and feelings in that situation, instead sympathise with what they're going though and let them know that their feelings are valid and being heard.
You can also take the time to educate yourself where you can on some of the problems they may be facing in order to gain a better understanding. Fortunately, there are a number of resources now readily available that provide useful information on a range of different mental illnesses. Click here for more information about different mental illnesses and/or click here for ways to help with differing conditions.
Overall, the most important thing is letting your friends and family know that it's okay for them to talk to you if they need to and that you'll listen without judgement. Sometimes people will tell you they're okay when in reality they're not so sometimes asking again a second time can make a difference. This doesn't mean you should persistently pry on your friends to talk to you if they aren't ready but reassuring them you're not just asking out of politeness and actually care can be the difference between someone opening up or bottling their emotions.
No one expects you to be an expert on mental health and there may be times where you feel you said the wrong thing or could of done more but remember to be kind to yourself and understand it's not always easy to provide emotional support for another person, especially if you too are struggling. Ultimately, showing a bit of compassion and putting in a bit of effort to show those around you that they are supported can go a long way.
And if you yourself are struggling there are a number of amazing support organisations out there for men struggling with their mental health. We have listed a few of our favourites below.
Respect: Men's Advice Line - Confidential support line for male victims of domestic abuse.
HUMEN - A moving aiming to "improve and maintain men's mental health" which provides "anonymous, preventative and non-clinical spaces for men to talk, listen and connect on a regular basis."
OnlyDads - Support for "parents who are struggling to make the best decisions for their family during separation and divorce."
Men's Health Forum - Information and assistance for both mental and physical health.
If you are need of more immediate support or assistance you can also check out one of our previous posts which lists a number of helplines available to anyone in need, regardless of gender. Click here.
Also, make sure you're keeping an eye out on the CFM blog throughout this week for even more helpful resources/information regarding mental health, in light of it being Mental Health Awareness week (10th-16th May.) And be sure to keep an eye out across all of our live shows here at Croydon FM for special show features in relation to Mental Health Awareness Week.
If you have any useful links or resources you would like to share with us or if have any suggestions on what you would like to see covered here on the blog as we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week, please do get in contact!