November is men’s mental health awareness month. But realistically, we need to be focusing on this all year around.
Suicide is the biggest killer in men under 50 and in order to succeed in addressing the causes of poor mental health, it’s important to equip both boys and men with the tools they need to help maintain good mental health, and provide an outlet for them.
There are numerous concerning statistics around men’s mental health. Firstly, only 24% of men discuss their problems, emotions or stress levels with family and friends, and the majority will choose to internalise their feelings and pretend that everything is ‘fine’.
It is important that we create a platform, and tackle the stigma so that men are more comfortable talking about how they feel. But not only do cultural shifts need to happen, it’s important also to recognise warning signs in the males close to us.
Recognising when someone isn’t coping is not always straightforward. Sometimes there are visible outward indications of distress – being unusually withdrawn, crying a lot or loss of appetite, but this is not always the case and painful feelings can often go unseen.
People may not open up straight away, or may deny there is an issue. Be patient. Knowing someone is there for them, and that they are supported will often make a difference, even if they choose not to accept help.
We all need to learn to cope under pressure, and to accept that there is strength in vulnerability and expression. The part we can play in building a safe and secure, non-judgemental platform is an important one.