There have been many stories in the press over the last few months about men’s mental health. Anxiety and depression are very real for many men, and there is unquestionably a positive move towards talking more openly about these challenges in wider society. After all, and worryingly so, in 2015, the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK was suicide.
As a society, we find it uncomfortable to see a man upset. From a young age we encourage our sons, nephews or grandsons not to cry but to ‘pull themselves together’ and to ‘get over’ whatever has led them to feel let down or upset.
This continues into their teens and adulthood with phrases such as ‘man up’ ‘man flu’ and ‘be a man’ bandied about by all who seem to think that because you are male you are not allowed to be vocal at experiencing anger, sadness or reacting negatively to pressure. It can be no wonder that we are now in this situation with alarmingly high male suicide rates.
With men, in many cases, still the primary breadwinner this can lead to extreme stress. We may experience the pressure of supporting a family, combined with the expectation to maintain a varied social life, whilst representing a perfect life to others through social media. There can also be the pressure to get that promotion and salary increase, meaning more hours at work and less time at home with our loved ones.
For some people it may just be a daily battle to present an image of happiness and contentment to our loved ones, whilst struggling internally with anxiety or depression.
When we suddenly have to deal with redundancy, the breakdown of a relationship or the loss of a loved one, it can mean a change in not just our physical circumstances but also in our mental capacity to deal with these extreme changes.
It’s not a sign of weakness to seek help to deal with any issue you may be struggling with. Making a call or sending an email to arrange to speak to a counsellor, such as myself, could really, really help.