Men's Mental Health - How To Seek Support And Speak To Loved Ones

This International Mens Health Week, we encourage all men to speak up for mental health support, and also share how people can support the men in their lives.

Men's Mental Health -
How To Seek Support Or Speak To A Loved One

This International Mens Health Week, we encourage men out there to speak up for mental health support, and also share how people can support the men in their life.

This article discusses mental health and mental health conditions. If you or someone you know requires support, call Lifeline 24/7 on 13 11 14, or text them on 0477 131 114. For emergencies call 000.

This week is International Mens Health Week. This is a time to encourage all men to make small but positive changes that can ultimately improve their health - not just this week, but every week.

This isn’t just about men's physical health either. According to Beyond Blue, on average one in eight men will experience depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives.

Here at ConfidenceClub, we also know that experiencing incontinence can have an impact on mental health. In fact, 78% of our customers surveyed believe so [1].

That’s why we think it’s so important to have an open discussion about mental health, in particular for men who are less likely to speak up about it. We know this because men account for only 40% of Medicare-subsidised mental health services in Australia [2].

You are not alone and there is help available.

While we encourage you to speak to a health professional such as your doctor or a psychologist about your mental health, we also want to share some other resources you may find beneficial. However, please know that this advice is general in nature.

How to start talking about mental health

The first thing to do if you find you’re struggling with your mental health is to talk about it.

Whether you’re stressed, having suicidal thoughts, or are experiencing a condition like depression, anxiety or bipolar - letting someone know you’re feeling this way can lift a huge weight off your shoulders and set you on a positive path of management and recovery.

As simple as the concept of ‘talking about it’ might seem, it can understandably be a lot harder than that.

Some tips to get you started include:

  • Find the right person to talk with who you are comfortable with and know will be understanding. This might be your partner, a family member, a friend, or someone who is more removed from your life, such as a health professional.

  • Be gentle with yourself and take it slowly. You don’t have to divulge every single detail right away, simply stating how you feel will open up the dialogue.

  • If you’re not speaking to a health professional, understand that some people will react in different ways. If people are not helpful in their reaction, this is a reflection on their lack of understanding. There will always be someone who will understand.

How to talk to someone you're worried about

If the shoe is on the other foot, and you believe one of the men in your life may be having a hard time, you want to be sure you’re approaching them in the right way. You can understand there may be hesitations from the person you’re worried about to open up to you, so be kind and take the conversation one step at a time.

Before you have the conversation consider factors like:

  • When is the person most likely to be relaxed and at ease?

  • Where is a place you can have a chat and both feel safe and secure?

When you sit down with this person and are ready to have the conversation, try to make it feel as informal and natural as possible. It’s also important to use language that isn’t judgemental or assumptive. Instead, try using phrases such as:

  • I’m here for you.

  • This is a safe space to talk.

  • I’m worried about you and want to see how you’re doing.

  • You can always talk to me about anything. There’s no judgement here.

  • What can I do to help you?

If the person is willing to open up to you and discuss their feelings, you can then use phrases like:

  • We can figure this out together.

  • I know it might not feel like it now, but things can get better. I’m here to help you.

  • This conversation is just between you and me.

  • Have you thought about speaking about this with a doctor?

It is common for those experiencing mental health challenges to not want to speak openly about it with their family or friends. This can be because of a number of reasons, such as not wanting to be a burden on anyone.

If the person you’re concerned about doesn’t want to speak about their mental health, you do need to be supportive of this. However, you should reamplify how much you care about them and that you’re always there for them to speak to confidentially. Continue to check in with them over the coming days, weeks and months until you are confident they’re on a path to seeking help.

If you experience any emergencies, always call 000.

Ways you can look after your mental health

We acknowledge that every person’s experience with mental health will be different. Therefore, what works for one person may not work the same way for another.

These are simply some simple, accessible ways you can enhance your health and mood, and positively impact your mental health.

Stay connected

Loneliness and isolation can be big contributors to mental health. Taking the time to hang out with your mates, your family, your colleagues - whoever fills your cup! - is so important. It doesn’t have to be a major affair. Go for a walk, watch a movie, or grab a coffee.

Maintaining these connections can cheer you up but also allow you access to those special people you feel comfortable opening up to when you’re struggling.

If you need help meeting new people, there are no doubt plenty of local groups in your community that you can join. Whether it be joining a sports team, a book club or a walking group.

Keep active

Research shows that people who regularly exercise have better mental health and mood, and lower rates of mental illness [3].

Physical activity encourages the body to release feel-good hormones, such as endorphins and serotonin, while also managing stress hormone levels. Regular exercise can also help you to sleep better, and better sleep is associated with better mood.

In terms of how much exercise you should be doing - any exercise is better than none! However, it’s recommended you aim for at least 30 minutes a day. This could be anything as simple as mowing the lawns, throwing a footy with a friend, going for a walk, swimming some laps or taking an exercise class.

Eat a balanced diet

Food really can affect your mood!

There has been some research to show that diets high in fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, moderate amounts of poultry, eggs and low-fat dairy, and occasional consumption of red meat, is associated with a reduced risk of depression [4].

Omega-3 fats found in oily fish like tuna, salmon, sardines and mackerel - and in white fish like cod, bass and snapper - can also help improve mental health. This may be due to the fact that omega-3s can travel easily through the brain cell membrane and interact with mood-related molecules in the brain [5].

On the contrary, foods high in refined carbohydrates (sugars and grains), such as fried foods, chips and sweets, can increase the risk of depression symptoms [6].

Where to seek help

While we’ve already mentioned the importance of speaking to your doctor, or a mental health professional, there are some other extremely helpful telephone and online resources you can use. Some are specifically catered to men, and others to all. All their links are below so you can find the right one for you should you need it.

  • MensLine Australia - call 1300 78 99 78, available 24/7 for men. Online counselling is also available.

  • Lifeline - call 13 11 14, available 24/7 for all. Also contactable via text on 0477 131 114.

  • SANE Australia - call 1800 18 72 63, available Monday to Friday 10am - 10pm (AEST/AEDT). They also have a 24/7 online forum where you can connect with others who understand what you’re going through.

  • Beyond Blue - call 1300 22 46 36, available 24/7. You can also chat with a counsellor online.

  • Dads in Distress - call 1300 85 34 3, 7 days a week. Opening hours vary depending on state.

For any emergencies, call 000 immediately.

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