40% of men in the UK will not open up about their mental health problems*, and with Men’s Mental Health Awareness Week (12th-18th June) happening this week, it’s the perfect time to raise awareness of how to look our for and spot the signs of when a man is feeling low.
We all play an important role in challenging harmful gender stereotypes. These are perpetuated by problematic phrases like ‘man-up’, which help aid societal expectations around why men are less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health problems.
We must ensure that we create a safe and inclusive space for men to open up, seek support and feel comfortable in their surroundings without feeling confined to gender expectations.
Why men struggle to open up
Headspace caught up with Jon Kole, Medical Director and Senior Director of Psychiatry at Headspace Health for insight into why men struggle to open up on mental health. Jon’s wise words:
“Emotional awareness and openness are not things we are born with, they are skills that need to be learned, practised, cultivated. Men raised in cultures and structures that glorify quiet fortitude, unflinching confidence, and unwavering strength will unsurprisingly be hesitant to speak up about their emotions.’’
Signs to look out for
So what exactly can we, as a society, do to help? And how can we spot if a loved one is struggling with their mental health?
Kessonga Giscombe, Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher at Headspace explains that:
“Recognising if a loved one is struggling with their mental health can be difficult because they may feel some embarrassment or shame about their struggles and attempt to hide them. In addition, they may be completely ignorant to the fact that they are struggling, as the signs and symptoms can often be difficult to notice”.
These are Giorgio Châtelain, Therapy Manager at Headspace Health’s five signs to look out for when a man is feeling low:
- Being more withdrawn for social activities
- Frequent and extreme mood swings
- Increased or excessive use of alcohol, drugs to cope with emotional pain
- Loss of interest in hobbies or decline in performance at work at school
- Neglecting self care
Giorgio further adds:
“It’s important to note that these signs alone do not lead to a diagnosis; however, are helpful cues to initiating a conversation with your loved one.”
Would you add anything to this list?
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