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A collection of false moustaches on sticks

Movember: Men’s mental health 

Many men think about it, though it’s not as easy as it seems… both growing a moustache and starting to talk about mental health, that is. 

From when it first appeared on my radar nearly 20 years ago, the Movember movement (which started in 2003 in Melbourne, Australia) began with a focus on helping those affected by Cancer. It took a few years before Mental Health became a more prominent part of the movement and it was still rarely talked about amongst family/friends or seen in the media. 

20 years later, we’ve emerged from a worldwide pandemic, that brought its own complications and long-term impact and on top of that, we’re dealing with different challenges; a cost-of-living crisis, the ongoing impact of climate change and with what seems like a list of stresses that go on and on. So, it would be no surprise if from time to time we were feeling a bit wobbly, worried or overwhelmed, especially if we’re not just looking after ourselves but have a family to support and feed.  

And yet, even now, to talk about how we’re feeling in relation to all these stresses seems to be a bit of a taboo subject, across all generations of men, young and old. Here’s a summary from one mental health professional about the statistics around fewer men accessing therapeutic support, or help from those around them, and the reasons understood to lie behind this:

“… In the UK, men are only around half as likely as women to access psychological therapies, and it’s also believed they are less likely to speak to family or friends about mental health issues. A big factor in this issue is the damaging stigma around mental health problems. One in four people experiences a mental health problem each year, yet the negative perceptions around them is greater than with physical illness. This tends to affect men disproportionately, and societal expectations and traditional gender roles are thought to play a big part in this.”

Hasanen Al-Taiar, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, Oxford NHS, March 2021

Thankfully, over the last few years, talking about the topic of men’s mental health seems to have gotten a bit easier, with it being more in the social consciousness as well as in the media. Sports personalities, musicians, even royalty, as well as the Movember movement itself – which has many men growing a ‘mo’ during the month of November to raise awareness of, and fundraise for, men’s health issues – are highlighting the importance of mental health.

Of course, it is important that these conversations keep going and men can share more and more about how they feel, showing others that, though it isn’t easy, it’s not impossible.

It can feel hard to speak and share with someone about your feelings as well as how to start to ask a man about how they’re feeling, though there are simple ways to start this type of conversation… Here is a great resource, from Shout, to get you started.

Accessing support is much easier these days too if it feels hard to talk with friends or family. There is plenty out there to help those who are looking for help or those trying to help. Here are a few supportive resources you could try: 

Shout (or Text 85258)

Samaritans

The Mental Health Foundation

Talk Club

The Calm Zone

The Bridge also offers a fee-paying service to help you feel secure and supported in your mental health. Call us on 0117 942 4510 or email us at info@bridgefoundation.org.uk

The more openly we talk about mental health as men and the more accepted it becomes – that we can all struggle at times with how we’re feeling, with the pressures and stresses of life – the easier it will become. 

And hopefully easier than growing a moustache! 

Sources:

Movember: https://uk.movember.com/

Oxford NHS: https://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/news/lets-talk-about-mens-mental-health/

If you need emergency support right now or feel a crisis building please remember you are not alone. You can find more helpful resources below.
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