Men’s Health Week: Mental health
Jamie is a first year Psychology and Criminology student and in this blog he talks to his friends about the stigma around men’s mental health.
For Men’s Health Week (14-21 June 2021), the emphasis this year is on men’s mental health and the impact of Covid-19.
Content warning: mention of suicide
Undoubtedly, everybody’s mental health has been challenged by the lockdowns and insecurities of the last year. However, even before the pandemic, men’s mental health has been a major cause for concern.
Suicide is the largest cause of death for men under 50. Every year, thousands of men suffer in silence and these figures have been accentuated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
There is a plethora of factors that contribute to why men often do not talk about mental health. In 2015, Priory commissioned a survey to? 1,000 men to uncover men’s attitudes towards mental health. When asked why men don’t talk about their mental health, these were some of the responses:
- “I’ve learnt to deal with it” (40%)
- “I don’t wish to be a burden to anyone” (36%)
- “I’m too embarrassed” (29%)
- “There’s negative stigma around this type of thing” (20%)
- “I don’t want to admit I need support” (17%)
- “I don’t want to appear weak” (16%)
- “I have no one to talk to” (14%)
From this same inquiry, it was highlighted that for 40% of men it would take thoughts of suicide or self-harm to compel them to seek professional help. This needs to change.
To encourage the conservation surrounding male mental health and gain a further insight into the topic, I posed the following questions to some of my friends at Loughborough University.
These were some of the key responses:
1. Why do you think men’s mental health is important?
“I think all mental health is important, feeling mentally healthy shouldn’t be something you need to worry about, people should always feel like they have someone to speak to who can support them.”
“Male mental health is important because it’s not spoken about enough and men tend to have a lot more weight put on them because people assume they’re strong and can handle things easier, especially with the idea that ‘men don’t cry’ which is not true at all.”
“A man’s mental health is no different to that of anybody else’s. Mental health is as important, if not more important, than physical health and it is unfortunate that some people do not consider that to be the case.”
2. What are your thoughts towards men’s mental health?
“Men especially were encouraged from a young age to not talk about their mental health, especially in England where it can be seen as emasculating, this is definitely something that needs to change.”
“I think men’s mental health is just as important as anyone else’s mental health and needs to be spoken about more openly.”
“Men’s mental health is something that should be talked about more, and it should be more commonplace for guys to speak about their mental health and seek professional help.”
3. Has your perception towards men’s mental health changed in recent years?
“Yes, I think men’s mental health has rightly become more of a talking point recently. Charities like Mind help raise awareness of the severity of the topic.”
“In recent years, my perception has changed quite a bit – when I was younger, I always thought men were mentally strong and that they were not effected as heavily as women.”
4. Do you feel comfortable talking about your mental health?
“Depends on who I’m talking to. Yes, if I am talking to my close friends or a professional. It’s not a topic I would like to talk about often though.”
“Sometimes I feel comfortable talking about my mental health. I don’t feel comfortable going into detail about it unless I’m close to a breaking point.”
5. What advice would you have for any men struggling in silence with their mental health?
“Don’t spend your time alone. Be around friends or family whenever possible. Don’t hold in feelings, talk about them with people who care about you. If you’re struggling don’t be afraid to reach out for help.”
“Definitely talk about it and don’t feel bad for doing so. Even if it’s embarrassing or if it hurts. Also, what has helped me out a lot is writing down how you feel during your best moments and worst moments.”
“There are always people out there willing to help. There’s no sense in letting your mental health get worse just for the sake of coming across as ‘tough’. Speak to your mates about it and if you need to then seek professional help. Your problems are just as important as anybody else’s and you deserve to feel like you can get help if you need it.”
The responses from these questions, particularly to the final question posed, reinforce the current attitudes towards men’s mental health and highlight the areas that we need to take a collective effort to address.
Alongside these responses, I would like to add that when it comes to looking out for yourself and your friends, it can even be a simple action like messaging a friend to see how they have been doing if you haven’t heard from then in a while. Also, if you find yourself in a situation where you are struggling there is always help available that you can utilise – whether it be engaging in a conservation with friends/family, contacting a support service or seeking medical advice. There is always someone that cares as nothing is more important than your health.
The aim of this blog piece was to contribute towards breaking down the negative stigma associated with mental health so that no individual should feel they need to struggle in silence.
You can watch Jamie’s vlog that he did for University Mental Health Day here.
Health and Wellbeing
Wellbeing means being in a positive physical, social and mental state. Wellbeing is important to us as happy, healthy people who achieve harmony in their work / life mix are more creative, productive and help to create a great place to work.