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Men’s Mental Health

Despite the increasing awareness around mental health support, statistics show that only 40% of men who experience anxiety and depression reach out for support (Bandara et al., 2019). This is likely due to several factors including societal norms, upbringing, and the role models they were exposed to. Through a culture of dismissal, phrases such as “man up”, “toughen up”, many men have been taught to minimise and bottle up their mental health struggles. This has undeniably contributed to the devastating fact that 75% of all suicides in Australia were males (Suicide Prevention Australia, 2021). On average, approximately 1 in 8 men experience depression and 1 in 5 men will experience anxiety at some point in their lives.

When you are feeling down or distressed, the most helpful thing you can do is to seek extra support. While societal expectations and stigma may make this difficult, trying to go about it alone actually increases the risk of worsening distress, anxiety or depression.  Many men may not recognise that they have stress, anxiety or depression. It’s important to know the signs, as the sooner you recognise the symptoms and their impact on you, the sooner you can recover. So how can you tell if you have an issue that you should consider seeking help with?

Stress

Stress is common and it refers to the feeling of overwhelm and inability to cope with pressure. While it is common and normal to feel stressed from time to time, it can lead to other problems including ongoing anxiety and depression. Common aspects of life that may bring about stress include home life, work, relationships, and financial stability.

Anxiety

The most common mental health issue experienced by men in Australia is anxiety. Anxiety refers to a constant state of fear or worry about a future event or perceived threat. More impairing anxiety is usually out of proportion to the reality of the situation or when it begins to get in the way of living your life.

Depression

Depression refers to the intense feelings of sadness/lowness that lasts for at least two weeks. You may feel hopeless/helpless or even a numbness and emptiness. Depression is often accompanied by self-criticism and the belief that you can’t cope. In terms of behaviour, people with depression may experience a lack of motivation/loss of interest and a withdrawal from loved ones, and unhelpful coping skills such as increased alcohol or drug use. Difficulty making decisions and poor concentration are also common in depression. Depression is a significant risk factor for suicide attempts.

Some helpful strategies to manage these emotions include:

  • Increase your time spent outdoors – there are many studies to show that spending time in nature can improve stress and alleviate anxiety or depressive symptoms. Walks, picnics, gardening, camping with your mates, and going to the beach are great options. The important thing is to ‘tune in’ during your time out in nature and hone in on your five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch on the surroundings. This is particularly helpful for those who struggle with thoughts about the future or the past (i.e., anxious or depressed individuals).
  • Set your boundaries – know when to switch off and remove yourself from situations that are adding any unnecessary stress. This might look like not bringing any work home, limiting contact from people who bring your mood down, or limiting screen time.
  • Catch up on sleep – sleep is vital in helping your mind and body manage stress. Consistent bedtime and good sleep hygiene are important to maintain. Ensure to avoid any screen time or ‘hyperactivity’ in the few hours right before bed time.
  • Increase joy – intentionally scheduling in time to do the things you want to do can bring about more pleasure/enjoyment. It can be easy to get caught up in situations or things that are weighing you down, so shifting that focus to add more positivity in your life may be helpful.

The great news about men’s mental health

Most common men’s mental health issues can be successfully treated and there’s heaps of great information out there about different strategies and techniques that can help. Everyone struggles at times – the key is to reach out for help as early as possible to increase the chances of a faster recovery. It often helps to have a chat with a mate or a family member, but there’s also the option to speak with a professional if you think you need more specific help. 

Reach out to our friendly team of psychologists here at Mind Matters to discuss your first steps to recovery. Effectively managing your mental health can give you significant improvements in your quality of life, increase your capacity to support your family and your mates, and let you perform at your best.  

Men’s mental health line: 1300 78 99 78

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