A man’s mind is a precious thing to waste, however we rarely talk about our minds let alone our feelings. What does it mean to be a man in this day and age, and what impact does that have on our mental health? Once a taboo subject, our mental health is now on the cards and should be a talking point for all men, however stigma still exists, and often prevents men from getting the help they need.
Research has shown that men a more likely to commit and complete suicide than women, whilst women attempt suicide more frequently then men, the after results are poles apart, with men being 3 times more likely to die from suicide then women. So what is the reason for this? Why are so many men, ending their own lives? We have got to the point where we are in a crisis in terms of the suicide rate amongst men.
Gender roles in mens mental health
Over the years men have been barraged with a perceived notion of masculinity, what does it mean to be a man? From an early age young men a drilled with “man up” “boys dont cry” “take it like a man” and any sign of emotion can be taken as a sign of weakness. But what does this do for our male psyche? This means that our young men are going through life with an overwhelming feeling that they have to conform to a perceived gender construct that is outdated and does not prepare young men emotionally for life ahead.
As a society we need to start empowering our young men and we need to start talking about how we feel. Rather then bottling things up which can lead to various emotional and personality disorders we just need to say it’s OK. It’s ok to feel emotional, it’s ok to get up set and it is certainly ok to cry. Once we get our feelings on the table it makes it much easier to get the appropriate support. However if you are suffering with your mental health it is important that you recognise the symptoms.
Signs of mental health issues
• lack of concentration
• lack of interest of socialising not keeping in touch with friends
• Low mood, general feelings of unhappiness that wont go away
• negativity and becoming pessimistic
• An overwhelming sense of hopelessness and possible suicidal thoughts
• can’t enjoy anything
• loss of appetite and lose weight or comfort eat and put on weight
• insomnia and can’t sleep with ease
• loss of libido and no interest in sex
Men are also more likely to suffer with the following :
• aggressive outbursts
• increased loss of control
Due to men being less likely to obtain the support they need if they suffer mental health issues, often men may turn to substance abuse to self medicate. Whilst this may provide a short term numbing , abusing alcohol or drugs especially in times of depression can have a disastrous effect causing more harm in the long run.
Treatment and support
In the first instance it is recommended that you visit your GP, who can correctly diagnose your mental health issues and make necessary referrals where applicable.
What you can do to help yourself
Do your research
There are now lots of resources online that have information about depression that will help you better understand the symptoms and the effect on the physical body and mental well being.
• Speaking up about your problems
If there has been some trauma, or imbalance in your life that has caused upset, its important not to bottle up your feelings, speak to a friend or a family member. If you do not feel comfortable speaking about your issues try writing them down and keep a diary.
If you push yourself too hard in life this can result in poor mental health, be kind to yourself, accept that nobody is perfect and allow yourself to feel comfortable if things do not go your way.
It may be difficult to sleep when you are feeling depressed, however its important that you try and stick to a regular nightly routine. Try and stick to the same bed time each night, do something relaxing to promote sleep like taking a hot bath, or alternatively seek out relaxation tips online. If you’re not able to sleep and your sleep pattern is interrupted, its important not to become frustrated.
• Do something Fun
Often in life we work hard and sometimes forget to take time to do the things that we love, if you have any hobbies make sure that you practise them, if you have any social groups make sure you actively attend.
• Diet and eating properly
Make sure that you maintain a healthy balanced diet even if you do not feel like eating, often men will be deficient in vitamins and minerals when depressed which will contribute to an overall low feeling. Fill up on fruits and veggies to ensure that your body has the right nutrients
• Take a break
Taking a break from your normal routine may help you focus your mind, even if it’s for a few days try and visit a friend or maybe a relative that lives outside of your city. Alternatively try taking a mini weekend break to a different country, this may help you clear your mind and reintroduce some interest back into your life.
• Keep active
By doing moderate to intense exercise has been proven to help improve mood and has a positive impact on depression. You do not need to go to a gym if you prefer not to, even a fast paced walk to increase the heart rate will help.
• support groups
Opening up about depression with your peers and other men in similar situations to you may make it easy to open up and talk about your feelings. Again you can check online to see if there are any local groups or discuss with your GP.
For More information on mental health matters please visit mind