IT'S OK TO ASK: Men are less likely to get the mental health support help they need.
IT'S OK TO ASK: Men are less likely to get the mental health support help they need.

Men's Health: R U Ok?

A FEW years ago it would have been unheard of for a man to admit to suffering from any mental health condition.

Admitting you may be depressed or anxious might elicit a scathing retort of 'pull yourself together' or 'man up' or similar unhelpful responses.

Naturally, in the past, men chose hide or bottle up their worries and carry on as usual.

Fortunately times have changed.

SANE Australia chief executive officer Jack Heath said: "Young men are often put off from seeking help because of stigma, embarrassment and the need to appear independent.

"Instead, they stick it out on their own, hoping the problem will go away.

"There are notions of masculinity and what it means to be a man that prevent them from getting help,” he explained.

"There's a belief that the very idea of being a man is that you deal with stuff and you don't reach out or connect.

"Untreated, the problem snowballs.

"The combination of that and the notion of having to deal with it alone, is the reason behind high suicide rates.”

Genetics, substance abuse, a traumatic childhood and relationship issues are thought to be the most common reasons people can develop a mental illness.

Men are less likely to get the help they need, with other ABS data showing only 27% of men seek professional help, compared to 40% of women. In many cases men turn to drugs or alcohol instead of getting assistance, this is especially so with men under 25.

"For a lot of men, the process of talking really puts them off.

"Moving straight to the practical steps they can take to help while learning about their illness, such as eating well, exercising and getting into a regular sleep pattern, is something many guys feel engaged with and empowered by,” Mr Heath said.

While seeing a psychologist is an excellent form of support, there are many other options for men who are uncomfortable talking about their feelings.

"For guys, quite often it's about being connected, without actually talking.

"It's the reason why going to a sporting event with a mate is good. It gives you a sense of connection, without having to talk about your feelings,” he added.

For more, visit these websites: Headspace, ReachOut, beyondblue, Black Dog Institute or mindhealthconnect.

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