How to Support Men’s Mental Health

November News: How to Support Men's Mental Health

Thanks to Movember, the month of November is dedicated to raising awareness about men’s mental and physical health. Movember is the leading charity in Australia supporting the biggest issues in men’s health including Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. Founded in 2003, Movember raises money to fund hundreds of men’s health projects around the world aiming to improve research, knowledge, and support for men.

Why is it Important to Support Men’s Mental Health?

Men often are known for bottling things up often influenced by harmful stigmas such as men who express emotions or vulnerability being ‘weak’.  The ‘macho’ nature of our male society has been given as the leading reason why men don’t reach out for support for their mental health.

However, by not talking about how we feel, our emotions do not just go away. They will build up over time, eventually impacting our lives.  Sometimes more than if we had spoken about our feelings in the first place.

Talking about our mental health and seeking help early is far more beneficial than neglecting the early warning signs.  By effectively managing your mental health, you can enjoy a significantly improved quality of life where you can better support your family and friends, and perform to the best of your ability.

Statistics

  • On average, one in eight men will experience depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some point in their lives.
  • Every day, 8 people commit suicide in Australia. Of these 6 are men.

Causes of Mental Health Difficulties in Men

It is difficult to pinpoint one cause of mental health difficulties. Sometimes it can be related to something difficult happening in your life, sometimes it can be a build-up of things over time, and sometimes it might not have an obvious cause.

Common life events that contribute to mental health difficulties in men are:
  • physical health problems
  • relationship problems
  • employment problems
  • social isolation
  • significant change in living arrangements (e.g. separation or divorce)
  • pregnancy/birth of a baby
  • drug and alcohol use

Signs of Mental Health Difficulties in Men
Throughout our lives, everyone’s mental health varies, going back and forth between positive at one end, and poor mental health at the other. There are signs to look out for that can help you keep an eye on your mental health as well as those around you.

Depression
Everyone feels sad, low, deflated, flat and angry sometimes.  However, if you are feeling low, sad, down, angry and miserable most of the time for more than two weeks, this may be a sign of depression.

Other signs include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in your weight
  • Having no energy
  • Not enjoying the things you used to enjoy
  • Feeling bad about yourself
  • Feeling guilty
  • Feeling angry or irritable
  • Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm

Anxiety:

Everyone experiences stress at different times in their life. Whether it’s feeling stressed about a big presentation at work, or struggling with money problems, stress is a normal part of everyday life. This type of everyday stress will usually pass as soon as the stressful situation is over with.

Anxiety is different to stress. Anxiety is when we feel very high levels of stress even when the stressful situations we are worried about are over.
 

Signs of anxiety are:

  • Feeling nervous, anxious or on edge
  • Excessive worrying
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • A sense of dread or feeling something terrible will happen
  • Feeling panicked and overwhelmed
  • Struggling to relax and sleep
  • Shaking, sweating, feeling dizzy
  • Breathlessness or quick breathing
  • Racing heart beat
  • Feeling sick or struggling with eating

Depression and anxiety are unlikely to go away on their own. If left untreated, depression and anxiety can stay for months, or even years. Both are serious conditions and severely impact on your quality of life. However, depression and anxiety are treatable.

Top Tips to Support Men’s Mental Health

In order to support your own mental health, and the mental health of other men in your life, there are things you can do to improve your mental health.

1. Take the Men’s Mind Quiz: Beyond Blue have designed a 5-minute quiz to help you understand how you and your mental health is doing, and what steps you can take to improve them.

Follow this link: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/who-does-it-affect/men/mind-quiz

2. Spend time with your family, friends or a co-worker for support: Feeling isolated or lonely are key contributors to feeling low and depressed. Make sure to stay connected even when you feel you don’t want to. 

3. Do things you enjoy: Remember to do the things you usually enjoy, even if they aren’t enjoyable at the moment to help lift your mood. E.g. playing football, going to the gym, fishing.

4. Eat well and exercise: Improving your physical health by regularly exercising and eating a balanced diet can significantly improve your mental health. Research shows regular exercise is highly effective in managing depression symptoms.

5. Focus on improving your sleep: Research shows that improving your sleep routine can be highly effective in reducing anxiety symptoms. Make sure you go to bed at a similar time each night, and aim to get 7-9 hours.

6. Reduce alcohol or drug intake: Alcohol and drugs significantly negatively impact our mental health and can lead to, or exacerbate anxiety and depression symptoms. If you are feeling low or anxious, try to cut these out completely.

7. Get outside: Getting outside into nature can lift our mood and take ourselves outside of our own heads. Arrange a hike, a trip to the beach or a walk in the park

8. Encourage men in your life to talk about their mental health: Part of the battle with men’s mental health is the stigma surrounding it. By starting the conversation with your mates, you can set the theme, and encourage them to speak up as well.  This can be particularly helpful when you are worried about someone, but they are reluctant to open-up. 

9. Reach out for psychological support: If you are struggling with your mental health, it is important to get help. Just like if you broke your leg, you would go to a doctor.  It is vital to seek psychological treatment if you are feeling anxious or depressed. Access confidential counselling through your Employee Assistance Program, Acacia Connection. Call 1300 364 273, SMS 0401 33 77 11 or visit www.acaciaconnection.com

Final Words

As moustaches start to grow this November, let’s bring awareness to men’s health issues including mental health and wellbeing.

Make a commitment this November to check-in on your mates, on your brothers, on your father, on your son. 

A conversation can make a different in helping someone feel less alone and more supported – don’t underestimate the important of just being there.

Where to Get Help 
Whether you are concerned about a colleague, family member, friend, manager or acquaintance, you can contact the following support services
  • Call or give the number for your EAP, Acacia Connection
    • 1300 364 273
    • www.eapcounselling.com.au
  • Speak to your manager, supervisor or HR if you are concerned about someone at work or need support at work
  • Connect the person to a GP
  • Encourage them to contact Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • If you believe someone is in immediate danger, contact 000

If you or someone close to you needs support, contact Acacia EAP for an appointment.

P: 1300 364 273 (24/7) | SMS or Live Chat: 0401 337 711 | W: acaciaconnection.com

"The safety and wellbeing of our clients and staff is always our top priority. Acacia EAP is currently operating under normal conditions. Due to the pandemic status of COVID-19, some locations may move from face-to-face counselling to secure video or phone. All counselling services are able to be provided 24/7, as always. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and act quickly on the advice of health authorities."