New figures have revealed that men are far less likely to speak up or ask for support when it comes to mental health. Considering this, and how this directly relates to suffering in silence, it’s a sure thing that we don’t ignore gender when we talk about mental health.
A great deal of the reluctance to speak out comes down to the fact that so many men don’t feel able to admit that they’re not okay or coping. Sadly, there is a stigma connected to not being ‘strong or macho’ and in the case of men, ‘strong’ and ‘macho’ often goes with being ‘silent’ – keeping a stiff upper lip in true British fashion.
As mental health awareness increases, and we all become increasingly normalised to being open and understanding of mental health issues, men will gradually become more able to discuss their own mental health. But how long, and at what cost, will this take?
What can we do about it?
- Lead by example and speak out, if you are struggling, talk to someone you trust – or a professional (i.e. a Mental Health First Aider or a qualified listener working with one of the mental health support organisations). Depending on what works for you, either can be effective.
- Find a support group locally or online. Good support groups can be a useful way to build a support network when you cannot, or don’t feel able to, do things in person, there are many fantastic support groups across the UK that are free and open to anyone.
- Finding articles, blogs or case studies that will help you understand what others have been and are going through
- Develop a self-care program; to start with aim for small goals by trying to eat well, stay fit, sleep well and drink that all too easy self medicinal alcohol in moderation. It can mask issues, and increase depressive states.
- If you find exercise a challenge you could try some gentle activities like yoga, swimming or even a walk which can improve your mood and general health.
- Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Think about how you would feel if you knew a friend felt like you and what you would advise. Don’t be too hard on yourself, just because you struggling or down, it is fine! We are all unique and with that brilliance comes the inevitable consequence that we cannot and must not sail this life without help and others. It’s absolutely OK, and normal, not to be OK