Man standing by a lake | men's mental health

Help for anxiety: why real men DO cry

Many high-profile men, including Rio Ferdinand, Prince Harry and Stormzy, have been courageous enough to speak out about their personal struggles and explain how they have had to get outside help for anxiety to deal with their problems.

Although men’s mental health has a much higher profile today than in the past, there are still many challenges for men who are struggling with depression or low mood. The traditional views that men should keep a ‘stiff upper lip’ and that ‘real men don’t cry’ have – thank goodness – become very largely things of the past.

But despite all the media attention encouraging people to talk more, it seems that – sadly – many men still feel that they are not being listened to when they try to discuss the challenges they are facing.

The tragedy is that men are still more likely to take their own lives than women. According to The Samaritans, In the UK, men are three times as likely to die by suicide than women, with the majority of suicides by men in the 45 – 49 age bracket.

Why it’s ‘Time to Change’

In research published in December 2019 by the ‘Time To Change’ campaign, 39 per cent of men say they have had a disappointing reaction when they’ve shared information about their mental health in the past.

Whether the underlying cause for depression is something traumatic such as a bereavement or simply the pressure of feeling that you have to keep up the appearance of being tough and in charge when you don’t feel very strong inside, the result can be the same: a sense of overwhelm and inability to cope.

Help for anxiety

So what can we all do to help our dads, partners, brothers and friends understand how to deal with low mood and ensure that they know that they have our support, whenever they feel they need it? 

Here is the advice from the Time to Change campaign about how we can all help to make a difference and ensure the men in our lives feel supported and listened to:

    1. Ask twice: Sometimes men say they’re fine when we’re not. To really find out, ask twice. It shows you’re willing to be there and listen – now or when your friend is ready.
    2. Read between the lines: While some men might come right out and say they are dealing with mental health issues, 31 per cent are more likely to say they are stressed and 30 per cent that they are not feeling themselves. 35 per cent of men said if they wanted to talk to a friend about their mental health they would ask how their friend is doing and hope they’d ask them back.
    3. f he’s inviting you to go for a drink one-on-one, he might want to have a proper chat: 63 per cent of men said they would be most comfortable talking about their mental health over a drink. Keep an eye out for the hint. Try just listening and creating some space for your friend to share what’s on their mind.
    4. Know when to end the banter: we all like a bit of banter from time to time, but it’s not always easy to spot when someone’s not in the mood or they want to be serious. If you notice something is different about your friend, or your jokes aren’t going down so well, ask how they are doing – and Ask Twice! Remember, ‘grow up’ and ‘man up’ is never helpful. 42 per cent of men say phrases like that are conversation blockers.
    5. No need to make it awkward, just let them know they are supported: 39% of men say they’ve had a disappointing reaction when they’ve shared things about their mental health in the past. All your friend wants to hear is that you’re there for them and your feelings towards them will not change. You don’t have to try and give advice, just be the good friend you’ve always been.

If you are concerned about a man in your life, whether they’re a friend, relative or loved one, do encourage them to seek professional help from their GP. It’s very important for them to understand whether what they are feeling is due to a temporary case of low mood, or more serious depression.

If someone is just feeling low due to an event or temporary problem in their lives, then support such as encouraging them to socialise, helping them to get out in the fresh air and considering a licensed herbal remedy for low mood and anxiety such as HRI Good Mood could help. But you should only take this approach if you know that the problem is not severe when only professional support can help.

For more information about how you can support someone that you are worried about, go to Time to Change or The Samaritans

Photo by Lukas Rychvalsky from Pexels

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