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Deconstructing the Taboo of Male Mental Health

Content warning: This article covers some very sensitive and potentially harmful themes. If you or anyone you know is at risk of what is discussed, please seek help.


Mental health in men is a seriously underdeveloped subject in Western Society. Is it because men feel they will be ridiculed for seeking help with such issues or that they felt that it was better to keep the (let’s be frank here) ‘stiff upper lip’? There’s a feeling in a few of the men I’ve discussed mental health with that it is more a matter of looking and feeling like a failure when asking for help. This article will attempt to educate and destabilise the taboo around men’s mental health. If you or anyone you know is at risk of any of the topics discussed (Suicide, Depression and Anxiety) there is help and support out there.


Suicide

Suicide among men is much higher than among women. This is evident in figures published on the Samaritans’ website, in 2021 more than triple the number of men compared to women took their lives. Out of 100,000 people, 15.8% were men that took their lives, and only 5.5% of women out of 100,000 people took their lives (https://www.samaritans.org/about-samaritans/research-policy/suicide-facts-and-figures/latest-suicide-data/). This can be, in part, attributed to readily available support to women from charities, medical professionals and family & friends whom they feel they can rely on. From the pressure that men undergo through life and daily stresses with no conceivable support network available to those that took their lives, it becomes clearer to see. Physical health seems to be the main topic of conversation among men, however, there are two elements to human health and the forgotten one is mental health. There needs to be a bigger drive to educate people about the available support for issues surrounding mental health. Suicide is a very permanent solution to a multitude of problems that can be resolved when help is sought. There are quite a few notable charities that help all people having suicide ideation and are in need of support. Please see the following links. https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/https://www.thecalmzone.net/get-supporthttps://www.mind.org.uk/need-urgent-help/using-this-tool/


Depression


By Pixabay | @pexels


There’s a lot to be said for depression, it tends to be diagnosed at the same time as anxiety by GPs and doctors. Boys and men have been raised to hide vulnerability and feel shame when asking for help surrounding a key aspect of holistic well-being. There is a sliding scale when it comes to the severity of depression. At the lowest end of this scale depression is characterised by a low mood and at the highest point it can be characterised with suicidal thoughts. Like all things it takes time to get to the suicidal ideation, the middle ground leads to numbness and feeling empty. Depression is an umbrella term and there are different sorts of depression that effect different people. When help is sought through the NHS (depending on geolocation it can take a long time to speak to a mental health professional) Doctors prescribe anti-depressants that work against the chemistry of the brain to prevent feelings associated with depression. Anti-depressants are commonly used alongside Cognitive Behavioural Therapy provides coping strategies through talking about very current issues rather than dealing with past trauma and is very structured where goals are set for achievement. There are many other therapeutic approaches available to everyone, a few of which have been aimed specifically towards the interests that men have and share. Heads Together and The FA have come together to create a campaign aimed towards men to get them talking together about football and then deepen the conversation to talk about emotions. https://www.headstogether.org.uk/heads-up/


Anxiety


By Suzy Hazelwood | @pexels


Anxiety is a fear of the future and stresses about the past. There are many different forms of anxiety including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder. PTSD is very common among men who have gone through very traumatic experiences from serving in the military to being a victim of abuse. Sometimes those that suffer from PTSD have panic attacks and flashbacks to the trauma that caused their anxiousness. Men who take drugs or suffer from mental health disorders may also suffer from performance anxiety when it comes to sex. Whether this is getting an erection or being able to orgasm. Common causes include poor body image or problems in a relationship and when taking medications which affect blood flow to important areas of the brain and body. When going about confronting these issues its important that you don’t measure yourself up to other people and while satisfying your partner listen to them, they tend to guide you in the right direction. If you or someone you know suffers with anxiety, there are plenty of charities and support networks out there to support you and offer guidance on how to support a man with anxiety.




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