On November 19 International Men’s Day is celebrated worldwide, and recognises the positive value men bring to the world, their families and communities.
International Men’s Day is an opportunity for people everywhere to appreciate and celebrate the men in their lives and the contribution they make to society for the greater good of all. It aims to highlight positive role models and raise awareness of men’s wellbeing.
As one of the key objectives of International Men’s Day is men’s health and wellbeing, here are some statistics aligned with that objective.
- Men have a suicide rate 3 times higher than women
- 1 in 3 men have been victims of domestic abuse
- Men on average die 4-5 years before women
- Men are nearly 2 times as likely to suffer from lung cancer
- Men are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease
This International Men’s Day, why not reach out to a man in your life who you think could be struggling?
There are three main steps we can take to support our friends, family, and colleagues when they are experiencing mental health difficulties:
(1) Recognise the signs.
Even with somebody you know well or see every day, it can be hard to spot the signs that they are struggling (indeed, sometimes there are no tangible warning signs at all, as the person is trying to keep their issues private) – but if you can, try to notice any of the following signs:
- Unexpected mood changes – including suddenly being calm and happy after being very depressed
- Social withdrawal
- Change in sleeping and eating patterns
- Lack of energy
- Neglect of personal appearance
- Reckless behaviour
- Increased drug or alcohol abuse
- Anger or irritability
- Talking about suicide or wanting to die– their statements may be vague or appear to be joking about it
- Giving away possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family as if they won’t be seeing them again
If you think somebody is in immediate danger, call 999.
(2) Start a conversation.
This can be the hardest step to take, but talking to them about your worries is crucial. A simple, “are you okay?” can be enough to get the ball rolling, but some people may be trying to avoid their issues. If this is the case, keep showing your support and reiterate that you are always there if they want to talk.
Not sure what to say? Check out this handy guide on how to provide support in a conversation about mental health.
If you don’t feel close enough to a person who you have concerns about (such as an acquaintance or new colleague), suggest that they speak to a close friend, loved one, or even their GP. If they are not willing to have a conversation with anybody they know (as is often the case), make them aware of the numerous resources available to them – such as CALM, Mind, and Samaritans – all of which are completely free and confidential.
(3) Look after yourself.
Helping a loved one with their mental health issues can take its toll. Please make sure that you take good care of yourself, especially after any difficult conversations or incidents. Whether you invest some time in self-care or stepping back from the situation, make the time and space for your own feelings too.
It is likely that your loved one will need extra support – that could be from other friends and family, or it could be from a trained professional like a GP or counsellor. Encourage them to do so, especially if you feel that you cannot handle their mental health issues on your own.
And, of course, make sure that you reach out for support too. By helping others, you are doing a great thing – but you must help yourself too.