- Posted by Cam Poole
- On November 12, 2019
Too many men continue to struggle with their mental health in silence — partly due to the heavy stigmatization that still exists and the persistent, yet, outdated, stereotypes of what a man should be.
The impact is reflected in 10% of men experience symptoms of mental health disorders and substance dependencies, and most alarming the fact that males account for 75% of deaths by suicide.
Honoring men’s mental health month, we’re bringing greater attention to the need for changes that will encourage men to talk and seek the help they need and deserve.
We need to stop “manning up”
A good starting point is scrapping outdated language such as ‘boys’ don’t cry,’ ‘be a man’ and ‘man up’ that positions asking for help as a sign of weakness or failure.
These are real expectations that many men live with and can prevent them from accessing much-needed help and support.
Create opportunities for a real conversation
Good conversations can happen anywhere, but men tend to have fewer situations where they feel comfortable talking about their mental health struggles. If you see a friend, colleague or partner struggling, then consider creating opportunities for a chat.
- Shoulder to shoulder – Whether it’s a shared hobby or watching tv, many men find it easier to talk while they’re engaged in an activity, instead of having a face-to-face conversation over coffee, for example.
- Get out and talk – Being outside in mother nature and fresh air is beneficial to all of us. Walking outside, hiking a hill or engaging in a relaxing sport can help give men the freedom to open up.
- Online opportunities – Sometimes it feels easier to have an open conversation via text or chat instead of in-person. A chance to connect with a mental health professional or online support group can bring comfort and confidentiality.
3 tips and scripts to encourage men to talk about their mental health
- Ask them how they feel
Men can feel uncomfortable reaching out, or may think it’s a burden for friends to listen. Ask them how they feel, but be mindful not to ask the general conversational question: “how are you?”– as they are likely to respond: “okay.” That brings a quick end to the conversation. Instead, create an open,explorative conversation with:
“How has today been for you? How have you been managing?”
- Listen in
Listening to someone in need is the most helpful thing you can do. You’ll never make the situation worse by asking how he’s doing. If he’s open to talking, make sure you don’t interrupt. Listen and reassure him that you hear what he’s saying. For instance:
“No matter what’s bothering you, I’m here to listen.”
- Encourage them to seek help
You don’t have to know all the answers, but together you can explore some of the options he might have. Let him know about resources available online and encourage him to talk to a mental health professional or others around him. You can begin that conversation with:
“I’m not an expert when it comes to this kind of thing, but there are a few sites that may be really useful.”
“There’s no shame in talking to a professional. I can come with you or meet you afterwards, if that would help.”
Strength in sharing
We need to make transformative change around the attitudes and understanding of male mental health so that men feel safe, supported and confident taking action to be mentally well. It’s time to encourage men to share their mental health struggles more openly and reposition this not as a sign of weakness, but immense strength.
Download Snapclarity to complete your free mental health assessment.