Do you need to talk to someone?
Call Samaritans on 116 123
Experiencing a mental health crisis?
Is your life at immediate risk?
Call 999 or go to A&E
Whether you’ve been waiting impatiently for an excuse to grow a ‘tache, or you prefer a fuzz-free face, Movember is a good reminder to stop and think about your health – from both a physical and mental perspective.
November is Men’s Health Awareness Month, which is dedicated to bringing awareness to a broad range of men’s health issues. The Movember charity focuses on the three that affect men the most: mental health and suicide, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer. We’re encouraged to get involved by – yes – growing a moustache, hosting a fun Mo-ment, or running or walking 60km for the 60 men lost to suicide every hour across the world.
The money raised in previous years has helped to fund over 1,250 men’s health projects globally – including those supporting mental health. Movember aims to work towards a world where men take action to be mentally well, and are supported by those around them. This means opening up and talking about how they feel to friends or family – but men can sometimes find it hard to put their feelings into words, and are more likely to keep quiet if they’re having a difficult time.
So why the silence? It might be due to a belief that they should just ‘get on with things’, a reluctance to admit to themselves or others that they’re struggling, or feeling under pressure to be strong.
Here’s how you can initiate a conversation if you’d really like to talk.
If you’re reluctant to approach someone, ask yourself how long you’ve kept things bottled up. How has that worked out for you? Do you owe it to yourself to try something different?
Challenge negative beliefs about sharing what’s on your mind. If you’re worried you won’t be taken seriously, or you’ll be judged, consider how likely this really is based on your past experiences with the person you want to talk to.
Think about exactly what your needs are in advance. Do you just want to get something off your chest, while they listen? Are you hoping for support, advice, or some help to solve a problem? How can you put this into words? Write your needs down, so they’re clear in your head.
Approach the person you’d like to talk to. You could say you’re struggling with something, and would really like to talk about it. This will hopefully put them in the right frame of mind to listen. Agree a time and a place; this doesn’t need to be in person, you could WhatsApp, Facetime, or put it in an email, whatever is most comfortable for you and for them.
If someone you care about seems to be going through a tough time they might not talk about it even if they want to. If you’re happy to offer support, the first step is to try and find out where they’re at.
Start a conversation. The aim is to get them talking, give them permission to explore how they feel, and establish whether they want or need help.
Ask what sort of help they’d like at this moment. Some people will just want to be listened to, while others will need help with solving a problem, or with accessing some kind of formal support or treatment.
Think about the best course of action. It’s not your responsibility to provide a solution, but you may well be able to bring a fresh perspective, help them find the right avenue of support, and focus on taking practical steps. This might involve simply finding an appropriate helpline number, or encouraging them to make an appointment with their GP to discuss possible treatments.
If the person you’re helping tells you they’ve made a plan to end their life, or you suspect that’s the case, this needs addressing more urgently. Try to get them to make an emergency GP appointment, or call NHS 111. If they’re extremely agitated or distressed, or you think there’s a risk they’ll take action to end their life, call 999, or contact their crisis team directly if they’re already with a secondary mental health service.
If you or someone you know is struggling right now, here are some links that might be helpful:
Men's Health Week | NHS Professionals
Men and mental health | Mental Health Foundation
Get it off your chest: a report on men's mental health - Mind
Men’s mental health: a silent crisis - Safeline
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