Why we need to talk about men’s mental health
If the media is to be believed, there are increasing concerns about developing and maintaining good mental health in our younger generation. Yet you may be surprised to know that men (40yrs plus) are in fact the age group who suffer from the highest suicide rate.
The charity Samaritans have researched the issue in depth, concluding that men will often compare themselves against a ‘gold standard’ of masculinity which is very difficult to live up to – particularly when facing major life challenges such as relationship breakdown, redundancy or financial pressures. Telling men of any age to simply “man up”, “grow a pair” and get over it clearly does little to help.
Regardless of age, it seems there are still a lot of societal assumptions that men are better able to cope with mental pressure than women – the phrase “man up” being a case in point! By contrast, women are seen as lot more chatty, unafraid to share the intricate details of their lives. As such, opening up about personal hopes, fears and pressures isn’t just easier for women, but expected.
Against such a ‘gold standard’ backdrop of masculinity, it can be difficult for a man to be “that guy who talks about depression” – something that seems to go completely against the ideal character society has created for men. Yet talking is vital, if we are to change the future into a more positive and naturally supportive environment for men of all ages and backgrounds.
We need to begin by fighting all the sexist messages that tell men not to open up, or to display anything that may look like ‘weakness’ or vulnerability. It’s a misnomer that men are generally less able to communicate or pick up on unspoken cues than women; for starters, they have been responding to societal cues to “man up” for generations!
Engaging the men who are most at risk is all about encouraging them to talk openly, and perhaps to seek external help if issues are more deep-rooted. Many people simply crave a safe and confidential space to discuss everything that is on their mind, which is why accessing therapy can be a very positive step forwards.
The opposite of weakness, making the decision to talk to a qualified therapist develops mental strength, as well as vitally acknowledging that support is needed before events take a more drastic turn.
It’s often genuinely amazing how sharing concerns can make them feel much easier to bear, and we all need to feel supported in life – including that burly middle-aged man who seems to be the life and soul of the party, always ready to laugh and joke.
In short: no matter what they display on the surface, we need to engage with those men who are most at risk, and encourage them to seek help and support before they reach the point of no return.
All About People are proud to offer a qualified, completely non-judgemental counselling service in which men and women of any age can feel free to share their thoughts, fears and concerns with a trained therapist, safely and in complete confidence.
Appointments can be conducted at our friendly premises, or even from the comfort of your own home, over the telephone or via FaceTime if preferred.
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