Our culture is definitely getting better around men talking openly about their mental health, but we still have a way to go.
Many of us still feel ashamed at confessing our own struggles and that seems to us to be a travesty, at its core, is the fear of judgement by others. If everyone struggles at some point or other in their lives, where is the shame in struggling? How can we judge others for being like ourselves? It’s possible that by acknowledging that we all find life difficult at times it’ll be easier to talk openly about our individual difficult experiences.
The factors which prevent men from dealing with their inner issues until they’re at a point of crisis, can’t be ignored. It goes to the very heart of what we understand about being a man. If we are taught as boys that the highly emotional turmoil we go through has to be hidden away, or channelled into sport or playground violence, because expressing hurt or pain or worry is ‘girly’, then we are thoughtlessly condemning generations of men to a repressed, limited life. Which may well be dangerous for themselves and others.
What is required is a rethink about masculinity. And, to be clear, by masculinity we mean the attitudes and behaviours associated with being a man. Attitudes and behaviours which can vary widely depending on location, circumstance, culture, and which can therefore be shaped or refined. Men are dying and living in distress, and while there are top level issues around how this society looks after its people, particularly the working class, there also needs to be a reflective cultural push to challenge what it means to be a man, and create a framework for men to be able to admit vulnerability and find greater expression.
ManHealth is a Community Interest Company who provide support to men through a range of methods including training and peer support. We support men experiencing mental health issues through our peer support groups which are all ran by male facilitators who have a lived experience. Our training is centred on health inequalities affecting men and we campaign to raise awareness about men’s health.
The peer support project is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.
Working aged men (25-54 years old) account for the largest number of suicide deaths in the UK. Suicide is the biggest killer of men aged 50 or under.
- These men are also the least likely to receive any kind of support.
- They don’t talk about it with their friends.
- They don’t share with their family.
- They certainly don’t seek professional treatment.
- They are the victims of problematic thinking that says mental illness is an unmanly signs of weakness.