Movember: getting proactive for men's mental health
Every hour, 60 men die by suicide around the world; the equivalent of one man every minute. That number is hard to fathom, isn’t it? It’s alarming to think that so many men and their loved ones face such a tragic event every day.
Suicide is by no means straightforward; there are countless factors which can contribute to a person taking their own life and every case is unique. However, we do know that mental health awareness and talking about our mental health can reduce the risk of suicide. That’s why the charity, Movember, is so important.
Movember focuses on the three issues that affect men the most: mental health and suicide, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. During November (which is men’s health awareness month), Movember encourages people to get involved by putting down their razors and ‘growing a mo’ (aka a moustache), hosting a ‘Mo-ment’, or walking or running 60km (37 miles) across the month.
Not only do these actions raise awareness of men’s health issues, they’re also good conversation starters, prompting people to open up about how they’re feeling. Men are less likely to talk about their mental health than women - three out of four suicides in the UK are men, and the rate is similar in the US. Movember aims to work towards a world where it’s normal for men to talk about their mental health and feel comfortable supporting one another.
So far, Movember has funded more than 1250 men’s health projects around the world, including those supporting mental health. All the sponsorship money raised from growing moustaches, hosting gatherings and walking or running goes towards Movember’s important work, which focuses on prevention, early intervention and health promotion. To get involved in Movember and start fundraising, visit their website and create your account.
For now, if you’re struggling with your mental health and you’re nervous about reaching out for support, we have some tips that might help.
Challenge negative beliefs
First of all, try to identify what you’re afraid of. Are you scared that you’ll be judged, that you won’t be taken seriously, or the person will treat you differently? Now consider how likely this is based on your experiences with that person. If you’re speaking to someone you trust, the chances are that they are more likely to support you than shun you. You can get more advice on how to tackle negative thinking styles here.
Think about your needs
Ahead of having the conversation, think about what you want to get out of it. Do you want to get something off your chest, while they listen? Or are you looking for some advice on a situation? It can be helpful to communicate this to the person you’re talking to so that they know the best way to support you in that moment.
Practise the conversation
Movember has created a chatbot tool where you can practise having a conversation about mental health. It offers conversation starters and prompts that you can use in real life. Check it out here.
Choose someone you trust to talk to
It’s a good idea to choose someone you trust to confide in, like a family member or a close friend. Perhaps there’s someone who you know has been through a tough mental health spot and might understand what you’re going through?
If you don’t feel like there’s anyone in your life that you can talk to, or you’re not ready to speak to someone you know, there are many services available - check out the bottom of this article for a list. In the case of a mental health emergency, call Samaritans on 116 123 in the UK, or the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline on 988 in the US.
Have the conversation
Get in touch with the person you want to confide in and set a time and date. It might be helpful to let them know that you walk to talk about something important so they can get in the right frame of mind to listen and support you. You should also think about how you’d feel most comfortable communicating - it could be in person, FaceTime, WhatsApp or even an email.
Seek professional help
If you’ve been experiencing poor mental health for two weeks or more, you may want to get in touch with your local GP, especially if this is a new problem. They can help you to figure out what’s going on, inform you about possible treatment options and help you to find the best way forward.
In the UK ieso offers free typed therapy sessions on behalf of the NHS using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). To check if ieso is available in your area please visit our website.
If you live in the US, you can access further support by contacting your Primary Care Physician or learn about alternate options here.
Further mental health resources for men:
For UK Time to Talk Day, the ieso clinical offer their advice on how to start a conversation about mental health
In this team spotlight interview, we spoke to Dr Alyssa Dietz about her role as Head of US Clinical Strategy.