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Do men need a different approach to their mental health?

It’s Movember. This means moustaches and facial hair, and more awareness of men’s health, including their mental and emotional wellbeing.

There’s a stigma that may stop men from getting help even when they have challenges in life. My goodness, we all know that many men can’t even ask for directions if they're lost…. let alone ask for help with sticky situations and difficult emotions.

A big warm welcome to male readers. Yay for you!

I’m also aware that many readers of this article will be women. You may be reading this for the men in your life: your brothers, fathers, friends, male partners, kids or co-workers.

Research on mental and emotional heath services tells us that:

  • Men are at best a third of the service users. (This is true for me, as a therapist.)

  • Younger men are more likely to access mental and emotional health than older men. (My male clients are both older and younger.)

  • The most common areas of help were for ongoing stress and relationship problems. (My experience agrees with this too -- however, I would call it 'being stuck' in general.)

It’s widely understood that men are less likely to talk about emotional and mental health issues. But does this mean that they’re not trying to deal with them?

Research in Australia shows that the top health prevention strategies that didn’t involve talking include:

  1. Healthy Eating

  2. Keeping busy

  3. Exercising

  4. Using humour

  5. Doing something to help another person

  6. Spending time with a pet

  7. Accepting sad feelings

  8. Achieving something

  9. Hanging out with people who are positive

  10. Distracting self from negative thoughts

These activities were described by the study participants as ‘typically masculine’.

So how can we support men to look after themselves?

Of course it’s great for men to get some help by talking to a therapist. However, only some men might actually do that. We can support the men in our lives by encouraging them to engage in activities like those in the list above.

You can help by using encouraging statements, like:“It’s great to see you exercising each week” or “I love seeing you doing stuff that makes you happy”

Focus on the positive. Support the basics, like good sleep, healthy eating, rest and relaxation, and connecting with people and nature.

Finally, it’s useful for men to understand that getting help for their mental and emotional wellbeing is just like approaching a tradie for help with plumbing, a car or electricity that’s not working properly in your house.

The best 'comeback' you can ever have is healing your mental and emotional self.

I am here for you

The holiday season can be a challenging time for many people. Christmas is meant to be a time of joy, but this isn't the case for everyone. You may be grappling with family conflict, relationship problems, loneliness, sadness, stress or anxiety.

You don't need to manage these feelings alone. Get in touch if you want a non-judgemental ear and some constructive strategies for managing your life and thoughts.

I am available for appointments up until 18 December, and then again from 6 January.

You can make a booking here

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