On average, 13 men each day take their life by suicide in the UK. With Movember upon us, a time to focus on men’s mental health, we spoke to Phil Jones, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing to see what support is available and how men can do more to look after their mental health.
1. Talk to someone
The key issue in regards to men’s mental health is self-imposed isolation through not opening up to somebody. In fact, 40% of men reportedly feel like they can’t talk to anyone about their problems. However, the old saying is true, a problem shared is a problem halved. Just talking to someone, whether it’s a partner, friend, colleague or a professional, can help take some of the pressure off and they may be able to offer the help and advice that you need.
2. Ignore the ‘man up’ stigma
The saying ‘man-up is a misguided sense of bravado which teaches boys and men not to express emotion and not to seek help. Phil looks back at his own experience as a child:
“When I was 10 years old I went on a trip to a dry ski slope for the day with my primary school. I came back with a spinal fracture of my tibia. As a ten year old I was desperate not to go to the doctor and was trying to walk it off. I'm not sure where the defiance or perhaps even arrogance comes from but there is no doubt that something in my psyche drove me to try and deal with it on my own. After much persuasion, I spent the evening at the GP and then the local hospital where I was placed in a thigh high cast for the next 6 weeks. Obviously, I couldn't have walked it off... my tibia was fractured and I was in excruciating pain but it didn’t stop me from trying.”
“There has been much talk about 'toxic masculinity' in recent years and I'm sure some of the messages that men receive don’t help, the determination to go it alone and resist seeking help is likely to be a part of that. Much work in gender studies has suggested that women just tend to be more connected and aware of their bodies in a way that men are not.”
3. Be active
The endorphins that are released during exercise are clinically proven to help you feel happy, sleep better and concentrate more, even light exercise such as a brisk walk can help boost your mood. Try and keep active by getting off the bus one stop earlier or taking a walk at lunch time to get some fresh air and a change of scenery.
4. Book an appointment with a professional
As a mental health nurse, Phil has worked with many young men who have been determined to go it alone and manage things themselves. Sometimes they've let him help them and sometimes they've had to metaphorically collapse before accepting helping hand. But there is always someone to talk to, book an appointment with your GP to see what help can be offered to you.
5. Talk to us
As students, there’s no need to feel like you have to survive alone, especially when societies and support structures are in place and designed to support you. There are people reaching out their hands to offer advice and support and every society offers the opportunity for new relationships and new experiences.
Our confidential Mental Health and Wellbeing team are there to offer advice to anyone who is thinking about applying to university or currently studying here too. You don’t have to reach crisis point before you talk to us either. Our services are free, confidential and can be accessed on or near to the site that you’re studying. We can offer both one off general advice or longer-term support. We’re available 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday. Find out more here.
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