By Joseph Clayton
“Men…it’s time to speak out about your mental health and wellbeing”
As a society, it is vital that we all prioritise our mental health, making sure that we are treating it with as much priority and importance as we would our physical health. However, it is time for more men to speak out about their mental health and wellbeing, with around 40% of men still not admitting to others around them when they are suffering and having a hard time.
In recent years, more and more men in the UK are committing suicide due to suffering from illnesses such as depression and anxiety, with suicide being the largest cause of death for men under the age of 50. This is caused by not enough men understanding the importance of talking about their mental health, leading many to suffer in silence. Due to this, men are found to be more irritable and experience sudden anger and loss of control, highlighting the consequences of men being silent.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, three times as many men as women die by suicide in the UK every year, with only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies being for men. This is supported by statistics such as that in 2017, nearly 6,000 suicides were recorded in the UK, and of this, over 75% were men.
In particular, higher rates of male suicide are found in minority communities, including men from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds. This is because black men are more likely to have experienced a psychotic disorder than white men, leading black men being four times as likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than white men.
However, society’s expectations and traditional gender roles have been shown as a key explanation for why many men feel that they are unable to express how they are feeling, believing that they should not be showing emotion. This is because many men are expected to portray themselves as tough and strong, therefore neglecting their mental health which as a result can have devastating consequences such as many men ending their lives.
Therefore, this clearly emphasises why it is so important for men to break this toxic stigma and get the mental health support they need. So where can men get the help that they need to improve their mental health and wellbeing?
- NHS therapy and counselling services: If you’re aged 18 or over and live in England, you can access the NHS psychological therapy services. These services offer talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), counselling or guided self-help for people suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD etc. For more information visit: www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/mental-health-services/
- CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably): CALM is an organisation which is standing up against stereotypes, the sigma of mental health and against suicide. CALM has a helpline dedicated to supporting men who need mental health support. You’re able to call from 5pm to midnight, 365 days a year. For more information on CALM, visit: www.thecalmzone.net
- Samaritans: Samaritans are a charity dedicated to reducing feelings of isolation and disconnection which can often lead to suicide. Samaritans have a helpline that people can call if they are suffering from mental health issues or are feeling suicidal, which is open 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year. However, they also have a self-help app where you can keep track of how you’re feeling, which also gives you recommendations for how to help yourself cope. For more information visit: www.samaritans.org
- Heads Up Guys: Heads Up Guys is an online, anonymous resource designed for men, aimed at preventing deaths by suicide. On their website you are able to find a therapist in your area and how you can contact them. For more information visit: www.headsupguys.org
But there are also many ways that we can help, and get involved to try and raise awareness for male mental health! One way that we can get involved, especially during this time of the year is through the charity ‘Movember’, as their yearly campaign begins once again on the 1st November until the 30th November 2022. Movember have been making significant strides in the UK with their mental health and suicide prevention projects. This is shown through their social innovators challenge which funds creative programmes at restoring and strengthening social connections for men.
One way for you to get involved with Movember would be to grow a moustache, raising funds and awareness for men’s mental health. You could also take part in ‘Move for Movember’ by walking or running 60km over November for the 60 men that we lose to suicide each hour across the world. You can keep track of all of your fundraising through downloading the Movember app, with Movember being able to use the funds that you raise to fund groundbreaking health projects across male mental health and suicide prevention.