At my Wellbeing Clinic in Sussex, I specialise in working with people with stress and anxiety. Most of my clients are women and when men do come to see me, they most often attend for some Shiatsu because of a physical issue. It’s not until I chat to them about their whole wellbeing, that they will admit to being stressed, depressed or anxious. This mirrors my experience working with boys and men as a nurse. They often don’t open up unless probed.
When men are struggling with their mental health they may also have issues with drugs and alcohol and use these as a way of coping. Men are also less likely to speak to friends, family or loved ones about their mental health than women.
I believe that society doesn’t help. Boys and men are constantly being told that big boys don’t cry, be a man or man up. This only causes them to bottle up their feelings further. So is it a wonder that they don’t feel that they can’t share their feelings with others?
More worryingly, according to the Centre of Public Scrutiny approximately four in five suicides are by men. It is the biggest cause of death for men under 35 and there has been a sharp increase in the rate among men aged 35-64 too.
Because of this it has been recommended by Men’s Health charities that outreach programmes target places that men hang out to improve awareness and encourage conversations around this subject.
I saw a good example of this last year at the Amex Stadium when Brighton and Hove Albion Football club were playing. Outreach workers were chatting to and handing out information to the fans about the importance of speaking out about mental health issues. This in turn was getting the fans to have conversations amongst themselves about this subject. It was fantastic to see and hear.
This interaction came on the back of one of their players opening up about struggling with depression following the death of his father and then his subsequent divorce. Seagull’s player, Anthony Knockaert, thankfully found the strength to speak to his team captain and then his manager about this and the club supported him in his recovery. He then bravely shared his experience with the media so he could spread awareness. I think that he did an amazing thing, and I hope that his actions have helped even one person to seek help.
So if you are experiencing stress, anxiety or feeling depressed, then PLEASE speak to someone. It could be a mate, partner, member of your family or a professional. You are not alone and lets get talking about this!