What can we do about men’s mental health?

post by Si Martin

November, 23 2022

Lets talk about men’s mental health.
Because honestly. We suck at it. And even though the number one thing killing young men is themselves, men are statistically still less likely to seek help. So let’s break down how you can help support a man in your life, whether that’s a dad, a brother, a friend, a partner, or just a man you know.

Some stats about men’s mental health

To give us some context, here’s a few standout stats from a 2020 report produced by MIND:

  • 23% of men reported feeling worried about their appearance
  • 43% of men reported “regularly feeling worried or low”
  • 10% of men reported having suicidal thoughts when feeling worried or low

So why aren’t men seeking help?

  • Embarrassment – 28% of men would feel embarrassed to seek help, compared to 21% of women
  • Fear – 10% of men said they were afraid of being told they were mentally ill, compared to 6% of women
  • An overall lack of information about where to get help from

How you can support a man’s mental health

Notice the signs of depression & anxiety

I’m talking things like feeling hopeless, extreme tiredness, finding a lack of pleasure in things they’d usually enjoy. Or for anxiety, it’s things like trouble concentrating, difficulty sleeping, rapid breathing, sweating & trembling.

Particularly for men, we’re more prone to throwing ourselves into work, drinking more or using drugs to try and cope, outbursts of anger or violence, engaging in risk taking behaviours, headaches and digestive problems.

If you notice these signs from a man in your life, it could be an indication that they’re struggling, and might need someone to check in. Which leads me nicely onto:

Be the one to start the conversation

Time to be brave! As I said, men are statistically less likely to reach out and ask for help. So by being the one to start the conversation, you’re giving them the opportunity to get something off their chest that they might’ve been holding onto for a while.

Oh, and you may well get that classic response of “I’m fine” or “can’t complain” or some other default answer that we throw out there for whatever reason. That’s where it’s a case of asking twice. And really listening to what he says when he talks. He might mention something that seems small or even trivial to you, but it could be a huge deal to him. So really listen and take him seriously. No judgement. No brushing it off. If it’s a big deal to him, then it’s important and it’s worth talking about.

A group of men and women sit in a cafe wearing Heads Above The Waves merch, talking about mental health and drinking coffee.

Know what support is available

Remember that men generally aren’t even aware of where or how to get help. So it’s a good shout to do a little research into what support is available. Maybe that’s from somewhere like a helpline – CALM are a wicked place to start for that! Or it could be an easily accessible service like Men’s Sheds or Lions Barbers.

You can also use the Hub of Hope tool to search for support, groups and services local to you, including filtering by specific needs. It’s the sort of thing that you can offer to look up with him once you’ve started that conversation.

Be there for him

It sounds simple. Almost too simple perhaps. But legit, just being around for him can make a huge difference. It could be engaging in activities together. Gaming as a squad, getting coffee together, walking, playing a team sport. Just something to remind him that he’s not alone, and you’ve got people working together as a unit, and we’re always stronger together.

It’s also an opportunity for you to share what you’re experiencing together. And that’s often easiest if you’ve got an activity to be working on together. Talking about what it is that you’re doing can often be a first step to talking about the bigger picture stuff.

It really could be as simple as that to make a huge difference to a man in your life. Of course, suicide is a hugely complex issue that doesn’t necessarily have a straightforward answer, and these are just a few ideas that might help, based on some lived experience.

And just to close us out here – it’s worth bearing in mind that these are generally handy tips for supporting anyone towards better mental health. Noticing the signs, starting conversation, knowing what support is available, and being there for them is only gonna be a good thing. And just by reading this, you’re being part of the solution. So thank you.

If you found this helpful

We’d love to keep on creating more content like this and continuing to be there for anyone who’s struggling with their mental health. If you want to help us do that, pick up some of our merch with a message! It’s a chance to support HATW’s work & message while giving you some sweet new threads. Everyone wins!

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