03 Nov 2020

News

Focus on men’s mental health as the pandemic continues

With all the stresses and worries that we’ve all had to go through this year, mental health issues and concerns are more prevalent than ever, not just here in the UK but across the world.

As local lockdowns continue across the UK and more of us are having to stay at home, feeling isolated from friends, family and colleagues, it is no surprise that millions of people from all backgrounds and of all ages are suffering from stress, anxiety, depression and many other forms of mental illness.

As well as exacerbating existing mental health issues, the ongoing pandemic is also affecting many thousands of people who have previously felt in complete control.

The issue is particularly acute among men and as we enter November, the Mental Health Foundation is shifting its focus to men’s mental health.

A recent survey carried out by the organisation revealed that only 24% of men who have felt high levels of stress have discussed this with a friend or family member. This is concerning as stress can often lead to depression, anxiety, self-harm and, in extreme cases, even suicide.

Men make up three quarters of all suicides in the UK and that suicide is the largest cause of death for men under 50.

According to the Mental Health Foundation survey, almost one in three men started drinking more in order to cope with how they were feeling. Men were also twice as likely as women to report using illegal drugs when feeling stressed, which is worrying since dealing with stress in this way can often intensify underlying feelings and makes it harder to ask for help.

Two thirds of the men surveyed said they’d felt so stressed at some point over the last year that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. A third have also experienced suicidal thoughts as a result of feeling stressed.

These are devastating statistics. More has to be done to get to the stage where men feel comfortable discussing their mental health as currently, too many men simply internalise their problems and end up feeling very alone.

As the pandemic continues, we’ve compiled some tips on how to look after your mental health:

  • Stay in regular touch with people who matter to you, on social media, email or on the phone.
  • Plan your day and try to keep to a daily routine – this is essential for our identity, self-confidence and sense of purpose.
  • Make looking after yourself a priority. Try reading more or watching movies. Establish a regular exercise routine and try new relaxation techniques.
  • Try to eat a balanced diet and avoid bad habits that may not be helpful in the long terms such as smoking and drinking too much.
  • Make sure your wider health needs are being looked after, such as having enough prescription medicines available to you.
  • Make sure you are only accessing good quality, reliable information about the virus as rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety.
  • Remember that it is OK to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed about the pandemic.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Wind down before bed by avoiding using your phone, computer or TV for an hour before going to bed.
  • Try to see this as a different period in your life, not a bad one. Look for the positives wherever you can.

If you are feeling like you can’t cope or are worried about someone who is going through a hard time, talking is always the first step. Remember that you are not alone and there will always be someone who can help. You can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123 or CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) on 0800 58 58 58. Please take care of yourselves.

 

 

 

 

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