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Movember and Men’s Mental Health

Should we be doing more about awareness?

Let’s be serious.

I’ll start by just saying lookout for each other, man. If any of your friends or family are acting different, more reserved, or unhappy, reach out. It can feel cringey or awkward, but I guarantee you’ll make someone feel better.

I don’t usually do serious, but that’s just me. I try and stay away from a lot of serious topics because people can have strong opinions that lead to arguments. The original intention or idea is then lost in the process—but I think it’s important to engage in conversation and talk about certain issues to help raise awareness for these issues (such as depression and other mental health problems).

There’s always an air of discomfort or awkwardness around topics such as this, which I totally understand. People are often afraid of saying the wrong thing or maybe they don’t want to get too personal and don’t know enough about depression. Or perhaps they don’t want to address the issues because I guess if you ignore these topics you can pretend they don’t exist? Don’t get me wrong though, a lot of people don’t do this because they are horrible. It’s often down to not knowing how to handle it if a friend or someone you know may be suffering from depression, which leads to a lot of people who suffer from depression to feel alone or abandoned.

It’s definitely hard to say to someone that you have problems. People don’t want to show that they have weaknesses. They don’t want friends and family to treat them differently, or to see them in a different light that often leads to a vicious cycle where someone can become even more depressed. I genuinely feel there isn’t enough being done, but I think that’s down to the attitude that people can have towards mental health. There's certainly a stigma attached, and people often only talk about it after it has already been too late.

Suicide.

You felt something there, didn’t you? Didn’t feel good, did it? This is my point: We should be able to feel more open about talking about suicide and mental health. It’s often swept under the rug—I don’t want to say feel more comfortable because that implies that it’s an easy topic to talk about when it’s not, but that shouldn’t mean we can’t talk about it.

So let’s talk about it.

According to the Men's Health Forum:

  • 76 percent of all suicides are by men, and suicide is the biggest cause of death in men under 35.
  • 12.5 percent of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common health disorders.
  • This leads to statistics such as men are three times more likely to become dependent on alcohol.
  • Men are more likely to take and usually overdose on drugs.
  • Men are also less likely to access therapy and counseling.
  • Men report significantly lower life satisfaction than women.
  • 73 percent of adults who ‘go missing’ are male.
  • 87 percent of rough sleepers are men.
  • Men have measurably lower access to the social support from friends.

But why?

This is the age old question that fits in with some gender stereotypes, although some stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, because they do in fact come into play.

Men don’t talk about emotions very often. Don’t ask me why, it’s just something we do. I don’t know the answer. I think we feel we always have to be as masculine as possible, not showing any weaknesses, so we often try to deny any feelings of depression. Instead, we try and hide them, which is possibly the worst thing we can do in that situation.

So I’d like to talk about some problems I have with Movember—hear me out. First of all, I think it’s an incredible thing. I know we use November specifically to talk about mental health/suicide, particularly in men, but my problem is why do we not spend the whole year talking about it and raising awareness? Why do we not push that agenda further? Also, why not open it up to mental health as a whole—not just in men because women are actually more likely to suffer from depression (men are more likely to commit suicide). It’s an issue across the board. There's a day dedicated to it in World Mental Health Day, but come on... a single day, that’s just not good enough.

To sum it up, mental health is a serious issue that we need to raise more awareness for, in general. We need to get people more comfortable with talking about their problems.

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