Studies indicate that men can be reserved about expressing their health concerns and although people make fun of the notorious ‘man flu’, Men’s Health Week is a time to raise awareness for those who suffer with more than just a bad cold. Often our mental health, which alters regularly due to all manner of things, is an issue overlooked in men; so this week is a perfect time to raise awareness and promote good health and wellbeing.
Realistically, we all go through challenging periods in life, whether that’s the result of work stress, family life, financial pressure, health concerns or something else. However, it appears that men are less open to discussing these subjects and the effects, honestly and in detail.
It goes without saying that there are some external factors that we simply can’t control, but addressing the things we can control or influence, can have a dramatic effect on our wellbeing.
A study for the Men’s Health Forum commented that 34% of men said they would be embarrassed or ashamed to take time off work for mental health concerns such as anxiety or depression compared to 13% for a physical injury. This statistic is very telling and indicates that mental health is viewed differently than physical health, and men are aware of a stigma which may or may not exist within their place of work.
If you think you may be struggling with your mental health or there’s a man out there who you think needs assistance, look out for these warning signs:
- Anger, irritability or aggressiveness.
- Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite.
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much.
- Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or being on edge.
- Increased worry or feelings of stress.
- Sadness or hopelessness.
- Ongoing headaches, digestive issues, or pain.
- Obsessive thinking or compulsive behaviour.
If these characteristics seem familiar, it’s crucial that you or the men you care about speak to the right people, also there are some things that you can do to help and support them in leading healthier lives, for example:
- Let them know that you are there to support them.
- Encourage them to speak up about how they feel.
- Empathise with what they may be struggling with.
- Give them space when they need it.
- Avoid harmful terms such as “be a man” when they are being vulnerable.
- Reassure them that they have a safe space with you.
As a society we can learn to be more mindful of ourselves and to read and understand our own bodies and minds; taking care of our mental health is just as important as physical health. Sometimes its as easy as having someone to talk to or taking a little break from normal proceedings. At other times it takes more and we need bigger supports in place.
Here are some good resources to get started for you or any men you know:
- NHS: This useful site gives practical advice on dealing with mental health difficulties, including an overview of how to get advice and how to treat your problems, as well as some insightful stories from people who have struggled themselves.
- Mind: This page encourages more men to speak up about mental health, with really good, in-depth advice.
- Mind: Contact details and a breakdown of the Mind ‘Info Lines’. Mind are one of the best organisations for mental health assistance and their helpline is good place to go if things are too much.
- Movember: Known more for charity fundraising than articles, the charity actually offer some of the most relevant articles, as they are one of the few mental health organisations focussing purely on men. This site helps men to learn the benefits of talking more, offers a lot of stories from other men and includes podcasts and practical resources for free.