As you probably know, November is the month of ‘Mo’-vember. A time for fundraising which initially began as a charity drive to raise money and awareness around testicular cancer and the reason you’ll see so many men walking around with moustaches!
This honourable cause has grown year on year until it now has a dual focus, having grown to also drive fund-raising and awareness for men’s mental health. And there is serious need to raise awareness of men’s mental health.
Studies show that men are less likely to seek help with mental health issues. BMI Healthcare indicates that 28% of men will not seek assistance when they have a mental health concern, in comparison to 19% of women. Couple that with a traditional view of masculinity that views discussing emotions rather dimly and it is clear that there are issues.
There are myriad reasons why men may not be willing to talk, as highlighted by Men’s Health. One of the broad issues at play here is that perhaps men aren’t wired to ‘feel’. It’s not that men don’t have emotions, but more that traditionally men have not been brought up with a culture and environment to engage with their feelings or to discuss their emotions.
Consider this: boys are traditionally brought up with ‘action men’ style toys. The stoic and heroic doers who don’t show emotion, they just do. In contrast, girls are traditionally given dolls which have now been shown to activate the areas of the brain associated with empathy and social skills.
We have discussed previously about the hidden mental health crisis associated with the far out-dated concept of ‘real men’. 1 in 8 men is likely to be diagnosed with a mental health issue, comparatively 1 in 5 women are diagnosed with mental health conditions. And yet, as we have pointed out, because of the severe disparity in ability to discuss issues the number of men suffering from mental health issues may be significantly higher.
Furthermore, when it comes to mental health issues amongst men we must be mindful that suicide remains the biggest killer of men under-45 years old. And 3 times as many men as women die by suicide. Only 36% of referrals for psychological therapies are men.
So, what can be done? One of the drives of the Movember foundation is around opening discourse. They suggest following the ‘ALEC’ process.
Reach out, ask how your friend or colleague is. One manner of doing this is by noting something that has changed. For example, ‘You’ve been quiet lately and haven’t seemed yourself’.
Give him your full attention. They have to know that when they talk you are actually listening, and not pre-empting their responses. You’re not there to diagnose, just support.
You can encourage him to focus on things that are within his control. Think of things like sleep, diet and exercise. Also, encourage him to keep talking!
Remember it’s not just one conversation. Get back to him to check in on how he is feeling. Show him your continuing care.
It is so important that if you or someone you know is suffering that you can spot mental health issues and offer help. If your brother had injured their hand with a power tool, would you help them? Of course! So what’s the difference?
Mental health concerns can have many hidden or unseen symptoms and signs, but do you know what? They also have many visible symptoms. That’s why we do the work that we do here at Mental Health Midlands and in the Mental Health First Aid network nationwide. Get in touch to find out how we can help.
We can help
Based in Wolverhampton, Mental Health Midlands is a first-class training provider supporting businesses in Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Walsall and the Black Country. We provide recognised course in mental health such as two-day courses to become Mental Health First Aiders to basic entry level half day mental health courses to aid understanding of a misunderstood area. We help businesses to overcome mental health issues and break the stigmas around mental health in the workplace.