Common Mental Health Challenges for Men
In the past and maybe even still today Men feel they cannot speak out about their Mental Health issues. While the stigma that once surrounded men’s mental health issues is improving, it is still very much there and this needs to change. Male suicide was the leading cause of death in males in 2018.
Men are known for bottling things up. But when you’re feeling down, taking action to call in extra support is the responsible thing to do.
Trying to go it alone when you’re feeling down increases the risk of depressiong or anxiety going unrecognised and untreated. Depression is a high risk factor for suicide, and plays a contributing role to the big difference in suicide rates for men and women.
On average, one in eight men will experience depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives.
Blokes make up an average six out of every eight suicides every single day in Australia. The number of men who die by suicide in Australia every year is nearly double the national road toll.
Everyone’s mental health varies during their life, and can move back and forth along their own personal range between positive and healthy at one end through to severe symptoms or conditions that impact on everyday life at the other, in response to different stressors and experiences.
Effectively managing your mental health can give you significant improvements in your quality of life, increase your capacity to support your family and your mates, and let you perform at your best.
Lifeline suggests that males are committing suicide at a rate 3 times higher compared to women. On average it was equating to around 41 male deaths by suicide every week in Australia. There were men from all walks of life who thought that the world would be better off without them. They felt their families, children and friends would be better off. This was their only way out to stop whatever inner pain they were dealing with. More surprising however was the fact that in many cases, their family and friends were unaware they were facing any sort of struggle. They had put on a brave face and kept whatever they were feeling within until they couldn’t take it anymore.
Let’s look at some of the common mental health challenges that affect Men
It would come as no surprise that one of the leading challenges Men face is dealing with stress. It could be the pressure of feeling they have to hold down the fort by going to work and providing for their family. It could be long hours and time away from the family. There is a sense of being overwhelmed and the feeling that they potentially cannot deliver what is being asked of them. Here are our tips to deal with stress:
- Confide in a friend. Someone that will listen to you. They can be a member of the household, a friend or even someone at work. It is hard to put yourself in such a vulnerable state but it is important to talk.
- Mental health has a connection to physical health. Make sure you are eating a healthy balanced diet. Exercise is not only physically beneficial, but it can be mentally therapeutic as well. Take the stress out on the weights machine or focus it on the treadmill.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. These are a coping mechanism and not a solution to your problems.
- Find a work life balance. Spend your time doing things you like with the people you love. Try to take a holiday every so often. This is not an option for everyone, so even a makeshift long weekend can do the trick.
- Get some sleep. How many hours of sleep are you really getting each night? Exhaustion can amplify feelings of stress and anxiety. It is recommended that the average adult get at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
- Switch off the mobile phone. Don’t bask in social media. It can be easy to compare your life against your friends on facebook. You see their happy pictures and status’s about how easy and wonderful life is for them. Remember that social media is all about perception. They are presenting the image that they want you to see. It is not real life. Don’t sleep with your phone under the pillow and check it when you can’t sleep, it does more harm than good.
- Be present with your family and friends. Spend quality time working on your bond and closeness with your family.
- Finally, seek professional help. There are many programs available that can assist you. Contact us today and we can help!
A person can be surrounded by people yet still feel alone. Sometimes Men can socially isolate themselves and tend to keep themselves company by abusing substances such as drugs or alcohol. Loneliness is considered to be one of the biggest influences toward male suicide and not feeling a connection to the outside world.
Anxiety is something that a person can suffer from randomly at any time of the day. You can be fine one minute and the next in the throws of overwhelming anxiety. Mensline report that Anxiety is the number 1 most common mental health issue that affects men in Australia.
Depression is quite common. It is a feeling of being lost or sad that last for weeks, months and sometimes even years. It tends to go hand in hand with anxiety and loneliness.
Taking steps to manage depression is important for your current and long-term health. Depression is an illness that can get worse if left untreated.
See your doctor - Talk to your doctor about how you’ve been feeling to find the most appropriate treatment for you. Your doctor can also refer you to a psychologist or other mental health professional for treatment, sometimes with a rebate through Medicare.
- Talk to someone you trust - Talking to family, friends, a counselor, minister or a crisis line, can help you develop an understanding of your situation and help you move forward. There are some very effective treatments through psychologists/mental health professionals that can make a real difference.
- Look after yourself - Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. Exercise has been shown to help reduce depression. Take time out to relax and do things you used to enjoy, even if you don’t feel like it now. When you have depression it can be hard to get motivated, but it’s important not to isolate yourself.
- Be aware of your feelings - Noticing changes in your mood and thoughts and identifying what situations make you feel good and bad can help to stop negative thought patterns.
- Keep safe - You may be having thoughts about dying, that it may be better to ‘not be around’ or you don’t know how much longer you can go on. These thoughts are common when people feel very depressed. If you have these thoughts, get help straight away. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14
Men that suffer from one or all of the above challenges tend to remain silent about how they are feeling. In the past, it was often engrained into Men from when they were boys at a young age that Men don’t express their feelings. While times have changed, many still feel a personal stigma that they are considered to be weak if they show any sort of vulnerability. Not talking about their feelings leads to things being bottled up inside. Often self medication takes place in the form of alcohol and substance abuse. This can sadly lead to outbursts of domestic violence.
We often will ask someone when we greet them how are you? The response is usually I’m ok or I’m fine, even when they are not. It is an automatic response. We have to make sure we are asking someone the right questions. Sometimes just wording things differently or showing a person you are listening with body language can get them to open up further. Are there subtle changes or signs? Are they drinking more than usual, more tired than usual or quieter? More importantly, don’t wait until promotional days such as R U OK day to check in on someone. It is something we should be doing all the time. It is also import to reflect within. Are you noticing a change within yourself? Are you drinking more or retreating from people more? Do you feel you relate with any of the mental health challenges listed above? Is it impacting how you live your daily life? Change starts with you and no one can make a person change or seek help. It is something you need to want to do for yourself. The first step is admitting that you need that help. There is no shame is taking care of your mental health. The days of not talking about feelings are over. Now is the time and there are people waiting to listen and help you be the best that you can be.
If you would like to talk more on this topic for yourself or someone you know, please contact us and we can help.
If you need to talk to someone privately and confidentially, please take a moment to visit the below links or call the hotlines:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Mensline: 1300 78 99 78