International Men’s Health Awareness Week: Mental Health
The 10th to the 16th of June is International Men’s Health Awareness Week. According to the HSE, this week is used to:
Heighten awareness of preventable health problems for males of all ages
Support men and boys to engage in healthier lifestyle choices/activities
Encourage the early detection and treatment of health difficulties in males.
We have focused on men’s physical health so now we’re taking a look at mental health. Mental health in men has been at the forefront of many a campaign in recent years. When you look at the statistics you can see why. Men in Ireland are 5 times more likely to die by suicide than women (walkinmyshoes.ie), 79% of deaths by suicide recorded in 2017 were male, that means 8 out 10 people who died by suicide that year were male (Central Statistics Office). Walk In My Shoes has commented on a study by UCD sociologist, Anne Cleary. Her research found that 52% of males who had survived a suicide attempt had said that they found it difficult to talk about their feelings, and instead turned to drugs and alcohol to cope. This is a long running theme with men’s mental health. There is a reluctance to talk about their feelings. This could be linked to the idea of the “macho” male, and the notion that expressing one’s feelings is a weakness.
WHO has commented on how depression may be more persistent in women than in men. However, the language surrounding seeking help for mental health issues can be seen to be gendered. That is, depression seems to be predominate in women, therefore women are the ones encouraged to seek help and advice. Men are negated (unintentionally) from the mental health story. Paul Quinett has said “Hoping men will become more like women is costing us the lives of our fathers, brothers, sons, uncles and nephews.” (walkinmyshoes.ie).
What Can We Do?
Get Talking- As we’ve seen, men don’t feel as though they can talk about their mental health. Priory Group polled 1,000 men and found, 40% of men won’t talk about their mental health with anyone. A lot of work has been done to encourage men to talk, but it really does begin at home. If you have young sons or nephews talk openly to them about emotions and feelings, learning to feel comfortable with such topics from a young age could have a positive impact on their life. Chatting to your guy friends, and partners is also very important for men’s mental health, as “66% (of men said they) would share their feelings with their partner above anyone else.”
Be Strong - Seeking help when it comes to mental health is a sign of strength, never weakness. This is a message that mantherpay.org hope to instill in men worldwide, their tagline being “Life throws you curveballs, sometimes right at your manhood.” Their website has a host of resources explaining mental health in men, and encouraging men to show their strength and seek help should they need it.
Get social - If you are a man reading this, and agree that men need to be more open with their feelings, why not take the first step and bring up the subject with your friends or family? Whilst it’s been reported that men usually tell their partners about their feelings, single men also need an outlet. Your friends and family are your trusted confidants, and will only help you through any tough time you may be having. They may need your help at some stage too, the fact that you opened up and broke through the stigma could help to save someone’s life.
If you are experiencing mental health difficulties, seek help. Here are some resources you can use:
Pieta House - 1800 247 247
Samaritans - 116 123
GROW - 1890 474 474
Childline (under 18’s) - 1800 666666 or text 50101
Bodywhys- 1890 200 444