Men’s Mental Health Week Blogpost:
International Men’s Mental Health week is an annual celebration of the importance of the health and wellness of boys and men. Mental health problems are common – up to one in four people have experienced mental illness. The latest UK data shows that in 2019 the proportion of suicides that were male was 75.6%*, and the number a rise on the same statistics for 2018. Among men, highest rate of suicide occurred at 45-49 years old – the Office for National Statistics states that this may be because this group is ‘more likely affected by economic adversity, alcoholism, and isolation. It could also be that this group is less inclined to help’.
Clearly there is a problem here and this problem is growing, especially under the current circumstances where the ONS have estimated** that the proportion of UK adults experiencing some form of depression is ‘more than double’ what it was before the pandemic, increasing from 10% in 2019 to 21% in 2020. We must ask ourselves, what can we do if we need help? What can we do to help and what can we do to maintain our own mental health?
What can we do if we need help?
Identify whether something has happened to you recently that has caused an increase in your stress levels and look at whether you have any of the below symptoms:
- Being anxious, irritable, suspicious, or paranoid.
- Changes in your mood and having a low mood.
- Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping.
- Finding everyday tasks difficult, such as washing or preparing food.
- Becoming isolated, withdrawn and staying inside.
- Having suicidal thoughts.
- Belief that those close to you want to do you harm.
If you have any suspicion that you are undergoing a mental health crisis, remember that help is never more than a few steps away. Communication is the first thing you can do to start easing your problem. Take one of the following steps:
- Meet up or call and discuss your issue with someone close to you, a friend or family member.
- Contact a GP or NHS 111. They can also contact the Samaritans right away on 116 123 (UK) for free at any time.
If you are not ready to communicate with someone then begin by communicating with yourself. How can you solve the issues you are struggling with? What are you doing that is hurting you? What can you do right now that could begin the journey to recovery? Just remember, communication is key and keeping something locked up inside only ensures that it will not be dealt with.
What can we do to help others?
Communication is often the first step in helping someone to resolve their mental health issue. Waiting for them to come to you may lose valuable time that they could spend getting support. People with mental health problems are often experiencing some form of crisis and it is important that you recognise this.
There are some useful strategies when approaching someone who may be in a mental health crisis:
- Listen without judgement.
- Ask them what they think would help them.
- Avoid confrontation.
- Ask if there is someone, they would like you to contact.
- Encourage them to seek appropriate professional help.
- If they have hurt themselves, make sure they get the first aid help they require.
Remember that most people undergoing a mental health crisis will find it difficult to communicate at first and you must be accepting and accommodating.
What can we do to maintain our own mental health?
When problems or crisis situations arise, do not sweep them under the rug. Speak to someone close to you about them and bring the topic out to the light. In doing this you may find you can solve the problem.
Maintain a healthy diet, regular sleep pattern and consistent exercise schedule. Get some time outside walking, if with a person great, but alone can be even better. Sometimes it just takes us noticing our own capabilities and strengths, and the scale of the outside world to realise that our issues can be solved.
But not all issues are so simple, and it is important to recognise that we could also use a conversation about our mental health every once in a while, with either loved ones or professional help.
Mental health issues are not exclusive to any gender, age or ethnicity and affect all of us deeply either in ourselves or in someone close to us. In this international Men’s Mental Health Week, we should take the opportunity to understand how we or others can get help when it comes to mental health issues.