Opinion: Men’s Mental Health during COVID-19

by James Gostick on October 11, 2020


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2020 has definitely been a dramatic rollercoaster, with many worrying about the health and wellbeing of their friends and family. The constant stresses of 2020 have led to the increased issue of mental health. Unfortunately, it is probably more common than you think that someone you know might be suffering from mental health issues.

2014 data published by Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey shows that in a given week, 1 in 6 adults suffered from mixed anxiety and depression and 1 in 5 people attempted suicide at some point.  While women are more likely to attempt suicide than men, the suicide rate in men can be as much as ten times higher than for women. Across Eastern Europe, it’s 6 to 7 times higher. Across most countries in the world it’s in the range of 2 to 4 times higher.

In addition, only one in four men feel able to seek support or disclose mental health problems to loved ones. So the chances that you may know more than one person struggling with varying degrees of mental health problems during this COVID-19 pandemic is high. These are horrible statistics and we should be doing whatever we can to reach out and address the stigmas around men’s mental health.

Stigma

It is so common to hear the words which does nothing but cause the suppression and buildup of negative emotions - for instance "toughen up as a man". Personally, i have definitely experienced this and I am certain many of you reading this would have had a similar, if not the same experience. For some odd reason, there is a stigma around men expressing their emotions the same way as women, and this is definitely part of the reason why it is so much more common for men to take their own life.

There are many initiatives and movements trying to bring this issue to light. The hashtag #itsoknottobeok is at the forefront of overturning the stigma and is doing everything possible to try and normalize men expressing their emotions. Events like Movember are used to raise awareness of a plethora of men’s health issues, which helps to flip certain stigmas 180 degrees - it encourages men to establish better social connections in order to reduce the risk of mental health problems and suicide.

Self Help

With men’s mental health issues on the rise, it poses the question: what can you do to help yourself and others against it? In my opinion, I have always found putting yourself out there in social settings benefits me the most. Having close people to talk to always helps to get the weight off of my shoulders, relieving me of a lot of unnecessary stress. I have been massively into rugby for a while now and have made some of my closest friends through the sport. The team camaraderie creates a tight bond between teammates, which I find crucial for a lot of the social support I have. Finding a group with similar interests is the perfect recipe to make lifelong friends, which can go a long way in fighting the loneliness and struggles caused by mental health issues. 

I find taking good care of myself is always a way to feel rejuvenated. If I ever feel down or heavy, I tend to do a deep tidy of my room, pamper myself by treating my body, and dressing up nicely. I will normally freshen up with a good bath or shower gel and get a clean shave with my Double-Edged Safety Razor . The shave and deep clean never fails to help me feel really good in my own skin and improve my mental wellbeing - I cannot recommend a “self-care day” enough. My mood after taking care of myself is always a million times better than before.

Movember

There is always lots you can do for the community in order to help fight against mental health issues, and specifically, men’s health issues. With November on the horizon, it is the perfect time to start thinking about taking part in Movember. Movember is an annual event, where people grow facial hair during November to raise awareness for men’s health issues. When I took part in the event last year, I shaved all my facial hair (despite having very little) and took on the challenge to grow the best moustache I could in the month.

I received a few donations which went towards the Movember Foundation. This year, I have been able to grow substantially more facial hair, so I am hoping to raise some more for the foundation and urge you to try the same. It’s all for a great cause!

 

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