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Putting men in MENtal health

International Mens DayToday is International Men’s Day so we’re going to talk about men’s mental health.

For many men, talking about mental health can feel unnatural. Who can I trust? When is a good time to bring it up? How much should I say? What if they think I am weak? On International Men’s Day, we’re highlighting the importance of our mental health and sharing tips on how to protect it.

Despite campaigns by mental health advocates over recent years, there still remains a stigma around mental health for all genders.  Outdated stereotyping places the expectation on males to be a source of strength, the hunter-gatherer. The idea is still promoted by some that strong and silent is noble and attractive and male displays of emotion are a sign of weakness.

However, these attitudes are not only outdated but they’re unhelpful and often damaging. 

Mental health issues like depression and anxiety are widespread across the genders, yet mental health is something most men don’t open up about and discuss during their morning break or after clocking out. In Ireland today 75% of suicides are men and globally we lose a man to suicide every minute.

The reality is that historically many men have been misguided in how to approach their mental wellness.  Even as children, young boys who express feelings may be compared to girls in a negative context such as ‘big boys don’t cry’, ‘don’t be such a girl’ and ‘man up’.

But there has never been a better time to seek and be accepted for help with your mental wellbeing. If you’re struggling, you can feel better but the first step has to be yours. It may feel like the hardest step to take but it can lead to easier steps.

When is it time to ask for help?

  • Feeling restless, agitated or angry
  • Not sleeping
  • Finding it hard to cope with everyday things
  • Tearful
  • Not replying to messages or being distant
  • Not wanting to talk to or be with people
  • Not wanting to do things you usually enjoy
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings

 

Do any of these signs feel familiar to you?  Reaching out to tell someone how you feel is important, whether to a friend, family member, doctor, emergency service or crisis helpline. If you can’t find the words, why not try:

  • Are you around for a chat?
  • I feel really anxious, can you meet me / stay with me?
  • I have been thinking about suicide, I need help.
  • I’m not coping in work today; can you call me?
  • I can’t deal with _______, will you help me?
  • I don’t feel myself anymore and I need help.
  • Can you make an appointment for me?
  • Can you bring me to A&E?
  • I have been so stressed and not sleeping, I think I need to see my doctor.

 

Be assured there are many people who would like to support you during difficult times! Your family & friends would do anything to help you if you were drowning or in an accident, as you would for them, so don’t treat this any differently

How to reach out to the men in your life

Sometimes we can feel we are over-stepping the mark, especially if the man in our life isn’t used to opening up. But by asking direct (and sometimes abrupt) questions you might open-up that line of communication. You don’t need to have all the answers; simply by listening you are helping that person share the burden they have been carrying on their own. That in itself can be a relief.  Trust your instinct. Try to ask:

  • You don’t seem yourself lately, is everything ok?
  • I have been worried about you, are you ok?
  • How are you today?
  • How have you been since _______?
  • How has work been?

 

Caring about someone is reason enough to ask. You don’t need to have all the answers but sharing a problem with a friend or a loved one is often the first thing people do before seeking professional help. Although the tide is turning and there is an increasing awareness surrounding men’s mental health, we must all actively take responsibility to challenge stigma and promote a positive approach to men’s mental health whether that is our own or somebody else’s.

For further advice on reaching out to someone, check out our blog post on asking someone if they are ok

SUPPORTING YOURSELF

  • Eat well 
  • Keep in touch with friends and family
  • Take a break, especially during stressful times
  • Accept who you are
  • Keep active
  • Drink sensibly
  • Ask for help

For further advice, see our blog post on improving mental wellness

Please see below for support services or check out the Specialist Support Services section of our website. 

If the person is in immediate risk of suicide or self harm, it is important that you don’t leave them on their own. CALL 999 or Call 112 in an emergency or visit your nearest A&E Department.

Pieta House: Suicide support service – free helpline & face to face counselling support.  For information & branches nationwide, see www.pieta.ie

  • Free Helpline (24hr): 1800 247 247
  • Email: mary@pieta.ie (please allow up to 24hrs for a response)

 

The Samaritans: Longstanding & trusted, Samaritans volunteers provide confidential support, befriending and listening to those in personal crisis, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

  • Helpline:  Freephone 116 123 (callers from Rep of Ireland)
  • N Ireland Helpline:  08457 90 90 90 (callers from N. Ireland)
  • Email: jo@samaritans.org (email response issues within 24 hours)
  • Web: www.samaritans.org

 

Aware: Providing online, telephone & face to face support and assistance to all affected by depression & bipolar disorder.

 

AnyMan (formerly known as Amen): Confidential helpline & support service for men experiencing domestic abuse and their children.  Sign language interpreters are available if required and on request.

  • Email: info@amen.ie for more details.
  • Helpline: 01 5543811