Men’s Health Week – Smash the Stigma!

It’s Men’s Health Week! What a brilliant opportunity to raise awareness of men’s mental health problems, tackle the destructive stigma that is attached to it and celebrate the men who speak out.

Men make up 94% of the prison population, 90% of rough sleepers are men and men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women in the UK.

But how many people know that it is Men’s Health Week? Us Brits just don’t talk about feelings and, especially when it comes to men’s mental health problems, the mantra is “keep calm and carry on.”

Men may be from Mars and Women from Venus, but we all live on Earth and experience the same stresses, troubles and emotions.

When we think of men, traditional images of warriors and providers are often conjured, but rarely do we think of them as vulnerable and emotional; much less talk about it. We send men to war but don’t acknowledge the affect this has on their mental, psychological and emotional health, and it’s time we took action!

Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder are just some of the mental illnesses that affect men. Yet women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men (29% compared to 17%). Women are more likely to report symptoms of mental health problems and gain access to the many treatments available.

It is not surprising that 90% of the male prison population is estimated to have mental health problems. The stereotype of women being good communicators is often the butt of many jokes; but where does this leave men? Communication is key to overcoming mental health issues and we need to get men talking about their mental health.

Men become isolated and this fuels the cycle; isolation leads to mental health problems and mental illness unacknowledged and left untreated leads to increased isolation, and so the cycle continues.

This isn’t always the case, and there are lots of men who are emerging as positive role models. Actor, writer and president of mental health charity Mind, Stephen Fry has been vocal about living with Bipolar disorder, and recently spoke frankly about his suicide attempt in 2012. We should champion and admire his honestly, and encourage men to stand up and be counted when it comes to mental illness.

Men are speaking out and the more the better. We need to take action and get talking to the men and boys around us, to smash the stigma of men’s mental health!




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