Today’s blog is all about mental wellness. Anxiety, depression, and suicide prevention are 3 areas Movember is shining the spotlight on, with fundraising efforts going into awareness, research and mental health programs that target these problems. Unfortunately, the stats don’t lie:

1 in 2 Australian men will have a mental health problem at some point in their lives.

3 out of every 4 suicides are men.

It is estimated 72% of males don’t seek help for mental health disorders.

All these statistics are a big concern, especially the last. Seeking assistance is a big step for many people. Men too often keep their feelings bottled up, they don’t express their emotions as well as women and think it might be a burden for their friends if they talk openly about life’s challenges.  This is one of the big promotions associated with Movember: how to start this conversation with the men in our lives we know. It may be our husbands, brothers, mates or work colleagues that we suspect might be struggling a little and that need reaching out to; this might be the first step in helping them get on top of things!

Good mental health and Movember

The Movember website has many great information resources for everything Men’s Health related, but the “Have the conversation” page (https://au.movember.com/mens-health/we-need-to-ask) is a great way for loved ones to start the tricky and possibly awkward conversation for the person they are worried about. Firstly, it gives you tips on picking the right time and place. Then they outline 4 steps, in the process of the conversation…

  • Ask the question. They suggest some questions to help open up the conversation. These mostly relate to observations you might have seen. You’ll also see some follow-up questions, depending on the response. If you receive an open, honest reply, that’s great… but typically your question may be brushed off or they may close up. The page then suggests good follow up comments to make, and really reassure the person that you’re there for them and they aren’t a burden.
  • Listen to what he says. They really emphasise listening! The Don’ts include: trying to diagnose the problem, being judgemental, offering solutions, being dismissive of feelings/emotions, or saying “you need to relax more”.
  • Encourage action. This describes exploring options they have used in the past to manage their feelings, directing them to resources that are online, or encouraging them to see their doctor for professional advice,
  • Check in. Keep in touch and follow up, ensuring they know you are there for them and they aren’t a burden.

If at any stage, you feel the person you are worried about is at risk of suicide, they recommend referring him to a professional. The person can speak with someone immediately by contacting Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If life is in danger, call 000 or go directly to emergency services.

Some other online resources and services, with great content for males, can be found on the following websites:

beyondblue

www.beyondblue.org.au

beyondblue also has great advice for those wanting to reach out to a male who may be going through a rough patch. They have info on signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression, what to look out for, and a Mind Quiz to see if you personally may be at risk or possibly now suffering anxiety or depression. Their Dadvice page also has info, support and tips for new dads on how to manage this change in life. They also have links to immediate support through the beyondblue Support Service 1300 224 636 and additional resources on suicide prevention.

The Black Dog Institute

www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

The Black Dog Institute is a research institute that has great resources explaining mental health conditions. They have answers for questions ranging from “what is anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions”, to info on treatments and support services for sufferers.

MensLine Australia

https://mensline.org.au/

MensLine is a dedicated service for men with relationship and family concerns. They have a free online chat and video counselling service that provides professional support, no matter where you are in Australia. They also have telephone counselling specialising in male mental health issues. You can call them on 1300 789 978 from anywhere at anytime.

MensLine have great material that offers practical strategies for tough situations. They have parenting and relationship advice, suicide prevention information and tips for developing emotional wellbeing. They also have a handy section called Men’s Toolkit which has tools to help you strengthen your mental health.

HeadsUpGuys

https://headsupguys.org

A men’s depression resource funded by the Movember Foundation that provides guys with information, self checks and practical tips to manage and prevent depression.

These are just a few of many online resources out there. I hope that today’s discussion has highlighted a few key points that can assist those suffering with a mental health condition… or indeed family and friends who know someone who is or may be struggling a bit.

All the experts in this field consistently say communication, and reaching out for help, are key. Bottling things up and ignoring the signs, like any illness, just makes things worse and prolongs the recovery.

Remember if you or someone you love needs urgent help, you can speak with someone immediately by contacting Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

If life is in danger, call 000 or go directly to emergency services.