· When you think of equality what does it mean to you? The dictionary definition is “The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.” However, we have a long way to go before we achieve this. In terms of mental health, there still seems to be a stigma surrounding men’s mental health.
· The ONS recorded in 2019 4,303 men committed suicide compared to 1,388 women.
· Men aged between 40 – 49 have the highest suicide rates in the United Kingdom.
· Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women.
· 3 quarters of missing persons are men.
· 3 times more likely to form an addiction than women.
To find the figure for those men who suffer from mental illness is impossible as so many will never come forward and discuss the problems, they experience. The traditional gender roles make it difficult for many men to discuss how they are feeling or look for the help that they may need.
Changes in the way in which mental health is dealt with when it comes to men needs to start at home, at work, in the pub, everywhere. It needs to start with our sons, brothers, and husbands. Raising a generation that makes mental health a priority is key.
Last year when collecting my children from school I witnessed two brothers fighting, one was hit and fell to the ground crying. The mother repeatedly told him “get up you pussy” this narrative is so dangerous not only for the poor child who was hurt but for those watching. This needs to stop our boys and men need to know that it is okay to cry, to feel down.
As women what can we do to help the men in our lives to deal with mental illness?
· Talk about feelings, ask them how they are feeling? Make it a normal part of the day to discuss feelings. From 6 to 60 our men need feelings to be normal. Good mental health is achieved by opening dialogs about how we feel. Teaching our little men how to verbalise their feelings will lead to men who are able to do so. It may feel awkward with older men if it is something that they are not used to but keep going it will become easier over time.
· Keep In Touch – Now more than ever it is easy to become isolated from the outside world. Many of us working from home and not socialising to break up the monotony is something we are all struggling with. Women are more likely to stay in touch with friends and keep those conversation lines open. If your man is not the sort to chat on social media, perhaps you can find ways to bring the connections to him. Organise online parties, quizzes, and games anything that will help to lighten the current mood.
· Take a break, encourage your man to have a break if it looks like he is struggling. Taking time out and revaluating the situation is okay and can help to open the channels to seek the help that they may need.
· Help them to enjoy life once more. It is so common that when we are feeling down, we become almost blinkered from the good things in our life. Unable to see the small positives. Making a point of looking for the good can really help. Positivity is key, so do something you can enjoy, discuss something amazing from your day and encourage the same. They do not have to be major things, start small. Noticing the small things really makes a difference.
· Self-care is important and is often a tell-tell sign of mental illness when “I can’t be bothered” creeps in. Identify if this is happening to the men in your life and help them to realise, they are important, amazing, and totally worth it.
· Most importantly, seek help! If you can discuss with them the importance of getting the right help and being able to move forward, then do try. There are many services out there that offer help and advice. Also,
look for a therapist in your area that may be able to help. Many therapists are currently working online so getting the help needed may not even mean leaving the house.
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