One for the chaps - Men's Health Week
As it is Men's Health Week here in the UK I wanted to dedicate this blog post to ... men!
Now I am no expert in men's health (funnily enough) however, I am fortunate work with a lot of guys in my coaching practice so I'm beginning to understand the emotional struggles they face.
This year's Men's Health Week focus is on Covid-19 as men are twice as likely to die from the coronavirus as women. Which, let's be frank, is just as scary as it is shocking so I am appealing to all of you chaps out there - please, please follow the guidelines, wash your hands, keep your distance, be safe. Please.
For more detailed information check out Men's Health Forum https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/mhw
Why am I so focused on men's mental health?
I work with men on their wellbeing which naturally includes their emotional wellbeing and happiness and I happen to be very close and love several guys who have poor mental health.
Yet it's a very taboo subject. For one man I know, he couldn't even say the word depression to me.
That really got me thinking - if the majority or even the minority of men feel that they are unable to talk about their mental health how on earth can they get help?
And let's not pull any punches here - men do need help just as much as women, as transgender people and as teenagers & children.
If the statistics are anything to go by; 3 in 4 suicides are men and the biggest cause of death of men under 35 is suicide, perhaps we should be rethinking how we offer mental health help to men. After all, men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women - just 36% of men seek it out.
Add this to the fact that just 1 in 5 men take time off of work for a mental health concern we are facing a male mental health crisis.
There are several theories out there as to why men don't readily reach out for support and help; they may be reluctant to admit that they have poor mental health or that they are emotionally struggling, they may not know what to do or who to turn to for help, men may feel judged or concerned about the outcome if they open up especially in a work setting.
I also believe that 'talking' therapies may not serve men that well if they are struggling to talk about how they feel.
As with most change this needs to start early on with our children and to dismantle the notion that 'big boys don't cry' i.e. - are not allowed to show emotion in this way. We need to stop blocking boys, teenagers, men of all ages and allow them to have space and time to get in touch with how they really feel and help them express this healthily - not bottling it up, not exploding in anger or turning to drastic and often tragic measures of 'dealing with' their mental health.
What's the solution?
To be honest, I don't know, however, there are some fantastic organisations out there offering excellent support and some great advice:
If you feel up to it try and talk with someone; a friend, family member, your doctor. You may start off small but it's a start.
Do your research on mental health so you are more informed as this will help you to understand more about how you are feeling and responding.
Begin to track and recognise your emotions and moods so you can spot the signs of a bad day.
Then work out what tools you have to help you deal with bad days / moods. For some it may be exercise, for others it may be video games and endless cups of tea.
Consider joining a support group or online forums which are focused on what you are dealing with. You will be able to connect with other guys who may be experiencing similar emotions to share stories and strategies.
A few useful websites:
CALM The Campaign Against Living Miserably https://www.thecalmzone.net/
Men's Health Forum on mental health: https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/key-data-mental-health
MIND the charity for better mental health https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/your-stories/man-up-getting-more-men-in-mental-health/
The Samaritans https://www.samaritans.org/
I really hope that this post helps you or a man in your life - remember you can't spell mental health without the word men so let's do all we can to support them.