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How you can look after your mental health

In the UK, on average 13 men commit suicide each day. We spoke with Phil Jones, Senior Lecturer on Mental Health Nursing, to learn more about men’s mental health and what support is available.
1. Talk to someone

Self-imposed isolation and refusing to open up to others is the key problem for men’s mental health. According to some reports, 40% of men feel that they are unable to talk about their problems with anyone. The old saying, “A problem shared is half the problem,” is true. Talking to someone, be it a friend, a colleague, or a professional can ease the pressure and help you get the support and advice you need.

2. Don’t be afraid to ignore the “man up” stigma

The expression “man-up” is misguided bravado that teaches men and boys not to express emotions and to seek help. Phil reflects on his childhood experience.

“I went to a dry skiing slope with my primary school when I was 10 years of age. I returned with a spinal fracture in my tibia. As a ten-year-old, I wanted to avoid going to the doctor so I tried to ignore it. Although I don’t know where my defiance, or even arrogance came from, it is clear that something within me drove me to attempt to deal with it myself. After much convincing, I went to the GP and then to the local hospital. I was put in a thigh-high cast for the next six weeks. It was obvious that I couldn’t walk it off. My tibia was broken and I was in severe pain, but it didn’t stop me trying.

“There has been much discussion about men’s mental health and toxic masculinity in recent years. While I am sure that some messages men receive don’t help, the determination not to seek help and the will to do it all alone is likely to be part of this. Research in gender studies shows that women are more connected to their bodies and more aware of them than men.

3. Actively participate

Exercise has been shown to increase endorphin levels, which can be used to improve mood, concentration, and sleep quality. Keep active by taking the bus one stop sooner or walking at lunchtime to get fresh air and change of scenery.

4. Make an appointment to meet with a professional

Phil is a mental health nurse and has had the opportunity to work with many young men who were determined to take control of their lives. They’ve sometimes let him help, and other times they had to literally collapse before they accepted his help. There is always someone to talk with, so book an appointment to visit your GP to discuss what assistance can be provided.

5. Talk

You don’t have to feel alone. There are support groups and societies that can help you. Every society has the potential to create new relationships and offer support.