Man Down: The silent crisis of men's mental health

Men suffer disproportionately from mental illness, yet are least likely to gain access to support - both from medical professionals and from their loved ones. How can we change this?

Ewan Joshua Helliwell
23rd November 2021
Image Credit: Helena Lopes, Pexels

TRIGGER WARNING: DISCUSSION OF MENTAL ILLNESS AND SUICIDE

Men are three times more likely to die from suicide in the UK. In fact, men report lower levels of life satisfaction on average. Yet, they only consist of one third of NHS therapy referrals. What can be done about this silent crisis?

As it's Men's Mental Health Month, there's a lot more to talk about besides Zac Efron's Movember moustache. Progress is being made, as male celebrities and athletes are talking about their mental wellbeing more than ever. Despite this, however, there is still an increasing amount of men experiencing mental health problems. What can we do to change this?

"Education on mental health is the beginning of the end of the mental health crisis."

For starters, we can continue to educate people through media, schools, and everyday discussion. Education on mental health is the beginning of the end of the mental health crisis. Discussions on mental health need to acknowledge the differences between genders too. Men are more likely to turn to substance abuse, and express anger when they cannot cope, as well as isolating themselves from social groups when they are struggling. Noticing these behaviours in your male friends is a sign something is wrong.

Another issue is that men need to be aware that it's okay to talk about their emotions. Continued discussion about mental health is benefiting everyone and, specifically, the men close to you. Seeing your favourite footie player discussing his own struggles is important, as it normalises something that many people struggle with. Even if men feel like there is no-one to talk to, having the knowledge that it is alright to do so is the first step. Masculinity has to reconcile with mental health, and as men understand this more and more, the scales will begin to tip.

The media is talking about mental health more and more, but we can take responsibility too. You can ask any male friends how they are if you notice they have been a bit off. However, remember to talk, not 'fix'. Other people's mental health, regardless of gender, is not your sole responsibility. The most responsible action is to tell people how they can get professional help.

This mental health talk between Prince William and a group of famous footballers was a real turning point in the representation of men's mental health.

For Newcastle Students, you can visit the University's Mental Health Support at: www.ncl.ac.uk/wellbeing. We are lucky to have access to free mental health services, without long wait-lists, and students are encouraged to use them. You can also make use of student activities; societies can offer commitment, physical activity, and people you can bond with over common interests.

Men's Mental Health Month will pass by again soon, but we cannot afford to allow this discussion to go silent again. Mental health is a constant battle for us all, but it is often a deadlier one for men.

It is slow and steady, but it will win the race.

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