Men’s Mental Health
In a Man’s World
‘Tough’ ‘Strong’ ‘Being man enough’; this is the intensity of being a man in a world where there is more pressure to be fit, healthy and successful. At the same time, men are being torn between the old beliefs and our new beliefs and expectations of what it is to be a man today.
Under the radar of daily life there is a silent pressure among men. Daily pressures of providing; managing money, being successful in their job or business, parenting, DIY building up, finding time to be healthy and exercise and time to simply relax. The big difference between men and women is men are not as loud in sharing when their bucket starts to overflow.
Men listen, they talk to each other, they have a laugh, but do they share their worries and concerns with friends and colleagues? Most of the feedback experienced has been that men fear their friends, partner or colleagues thinking they are weak. The belief of “I should be dealing with this?” is all too familiar.
Men are naturally protective and by sharing their worries, they believe this lessens their ability to support and protect others.
Notice the Signs
While we might not notice the signs of this silent pressure, there will be some we can. When our mental health is under pressure our physical health will also be effected. Likewise, when men worry about their physical body, their mental health or emotional health will be effected too.
A range of mood swings, being dismissive, short, uncommunicative or shouting can be a sign there is something wrong. Help by responding to this change of mood with patience and calm. When someone is hurting or worried, knowing and seeing calm behaviour reminds them they actually want to be like that. With time and patience they will be open more to talking.
If you are noticing your partner being restless during the night and being tired more than usual, ask them if they have anything on their mind and would they like to talk. Also at work, when you see a male colleague who is tired during the day or having trouble focusing, reach out and ask them if they want to take a coffee break, have a chat, and listen.
Aches & Pains:
Notice when a man you know talks more about the aches and pains they have in their body. Maybe they are experiencing more headaches or backache than usual. Talk to them about exercise or suggest getting a back massage, or taking a break. Addressing physical aches and pains can help individuals raise their own awareness of emotional concerns.
Eating & Drinking:
When our mental health is under pressure, remembering to eat well and regularly falls from the top of the list of priorities. This can lead to either loss of weight or weight gain. You can also look for signs of dehydration, where they are not drinking water throughout their day, opting for more caffeine fuelled drinks. Then notice any excessive increase in alcohol. Often the new drinks down the pub are a disguise to avoid their current problems and distract them.
Men Need Help Too
Not all men are the same. They don’t all love football or going to the pub. As life changes their social life changes too. Through various life changes like redundancy, separation, divorce, cancer, bereavements; men can lose their passion for life. This can mean they lose interest in previous sports or hobbies too. Men get lost. We used to call this a mid life crisis, but we have learned over the years this was just because most men waited and built up the silent pressure into their forties; not now. Now men are encouraged to support each other, reach out for help. Together we can end this silent pressure, taking lives too soon.
Listen to your partner, your friend, your colleague, it might just save their life. Don’t be afraid to ask them whether they have had suicidal thoughts. Offer reassurance and perspectives of things in life being temporary. Over time thoughts and situations can and will change with the right support. If you have concerns for their safety, encourage them to visit their GP. Also check in with them so they know they are not alone.
Together we can make a difference.
Look Up: Movember Foundation UK https://uk.movember.com/
Need to talk: Samaritans on 116 123
This was an article written by Emma Lannigan for the MarketPlace Magazine, November 2018 issue. Emma works with both men and women based in Market Deeping, Lincolnshire and online. She is the author of self help book belifehappy: give, play, love, learn, a NLP life coach, Reiki teacher, mental health first aider and organiser of the local annual charity event Walk Happy.