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It’s astounding how society has conditioned us to believe that women are the emotional half of the species and that men MUST be strong, confident, unwavering and MANly....
Just what exactly does that even mean?
Stereotyping and oversimplification are just a small part of the problem that surrounds understanding of mental health and the stigma that engulfs all of us.
Grotesque phrases like this are rife nowadays.
It’s as though men can’t be seen to be having difficulty or struggling. We must be stony-faced and hardened to the troubles that we face, but nobody seems to stop and think what harm is this actually doing to us?
What happens when you can’t maintain that stony facade?
"GET OVER IT."
NEVER say this to someone with mental health issues.
It’s not something that they can control and if anything, comments like this can make things ten times worse.
“Just do some yoga or listen to some music and you’ll be fine,” is another one people love to spout.
OH! Why didn’t I think of that! Silly me!
If it was that simple, we wouldn’t have these issues in the first place!
The Unspoken Danger
Depression and anxiety affects around 1 in 6 people in the U.K. alone (according to recent NHS studies) and the statistics for self harm and suicide show that men are more likely to take their own lives.
Surely alarm bells should be ringing?!
If those statistics aren’t shocking enough, the reports also show the trend to be getting worse.
Action needs to be taken now, before any more are lost to these debilitating conditions.
“How can I help?”
Discussing mental health with friends, family, colleagues and even acquaintances can start the ball rolling.
Don’t just ask once, ask regularly and be compassionate.
Don’t laugh and judge. The reality of the matter might be something extremely difficult in the eyes of the person going through it.
The most devastating part of a lot of people’s experiences with mental health is the sudden isolation and distancing of those closest to them at a time when they’re needed most of all.
Don’t be *that* guy: Stick by people when they’re having trouble. You never know when you might need the same help.
It may not seem like it, but actually just listening to someone can be a life-saving action.
There are countless stories of people taking a few moments out of their day to ask a passer by if they’re ok and listen to them... and it turns out they have often saved them from self harm or worse.
You could be the only person that they’ve been able to speak to that day.
If someone tells you they’re experiencing any form of low mood/stress/difficulty/distress, DON’T BRUSH IT OFF!
This would have taken immense courage for them to share with you, so understand that they’re putting a lot of trust in you... show them that you deserve that trust and help them.
Sometimes a listening ear is all you need to pull you back from the edge.
Take their mind away from troubles with a walk in the countryside, a friendly coffee in a quiet cafe, or a crazy gaming evening battling it out on the same console so that they have company and not just an empty home to come back to or a faceless profile at the other end of the Internet.
It can also be good for your own wellbeing.
Depression can be overwhelming, but small gestures and regular support are essential to recovery.
It can leave you locked in your own mind and unable to function or do even the simplest of daily tasks.
They may not say it, but they need your help.
If you’re having difficulties: Ask someone to help. Don’t fluster and fumble your way through life.
Everyone has similar issues, no matter how far apart your worlds may seem.
Likewise, if someone asks you for help, be ready to support them.
Mental health has no specific target demographic, it can attack anyone and everyone, regardless of their situation, from young entrepreneurs to aging war veterans... and it can strike at any time without warning.
Learn to open up and chat about things more readily with other people.
It’s the only way we can tackle this growing epidemic.
There is no shame in crying, no matter what the hot-headed idiots tell you.
If anyone disagrees or says otherwise, it’s most likely that they have their own insecurities and are trying to palm them off on you.
Don’t pander to their inadequacies.
MEN CRY TOO.
It’s a brilliant way to vent out stress and shake off some of the worries that are building up inside.
Most likely, the other person will be experiencing the same issue or similar, or have already been through it in the past.
Think of it like a pressure cooker or a bottle of fizzy liquid: The more stress and strain you try to bottle up and ignore, the more the pressure is going to build.
If you don’t let it out once in a while, eventually it’ll explode.
Trust me, that isn’t a great experience: I’ve been through it.
If you think getting upset is the worst thing that can happen, try having a full mental breakdown.
Better to be wiping a few tears up with tissues now, than trying to scrape yourself off the floor when your entire world collapses around you.
Let off some steam every so often and you’ll feel better for it.
I don’t imagine that this article is going to change the world, but if it makes you think differently about how to approach even one aspect of what I’ve discussed, it’ll be worth it.
And to those that are struggling, please know that you’re not alone.