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Talking about male mental health: No more “boys don’t cry”

It’s International Men’s Health Week, and it’s more important than ever to open up conversations about male mental health. As a guy, it can be a bit harder to accept feelings of depression or anxiety, or you might feel inclined to try and push down these emotions. Unfortunately, ignoring the state of your mental health will ultimately make it worse.

Whether you’re already pretty comfortable with understanding mental health or you’re just getting started on your journey, it’s important to know there are resources out there and people who want to help you. No matter if it’s dealing with school, stress, anger management, break-ups, anxiety, depression, or any of the factors that impact mental health, your emotions are valid and there are always ways forward.

Here are some tips for dealing with mental health, and some resources you might find helpful.

Why don’t men talk about mental health?

Studies show that even though 77% of men suffer from mental health conditions, a massive 40% of men never speak to anyone about their issues. It shouldn’t be the case, but it’s true. So why is this? And what can we do to change it?

Mental healthcare provider Priory have made a list of the most common reasons men don’t talk about their mental health. Here’s some – and while we’re at it, let’s bust some myths.

“I’ve learnt to deal with it” (40%)

Note to self: ignoring emotions does not mean “learning to deal with it”. Unless you’ve learnt to deal with your mental health with direction and support from a mental health professional, chances are that what this really means is “I’ve tricked myself into bottling up dangerous emotions.”

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that this never works – in fact, it can make things worse. Instead of pretending everything is OK, talking to friends, family, a trusted adult, or a health professional can be a great first step to tackling your mental health issues head-on.

“I don’t want to be a burden” (30%)

First things first: you are never a burden. Think about it – if your mate didn’t talk to you about his issues because he thought you might think he was annoying or it might put extra pressure on you, you’d be horrified, right? Now reverse the roles. Your family and friends should never treat you like a burden.

If you’re really worried about that, why not talk to a mental health professional, or reach out to the places created specifically for anonymous or online conversations? There are loads of resources out there – here are a few to get started:

Kids Help Line

  • Free, confidential phone help line for young people aged 5 – 25
  • You can have a chat by phone, online or by email about anything that’s worrying you
  • Phone: 1800 55 1800

Lifeline

  • Free and confidential phone calls
  • Staffed by trained telephone counsellors to assist people in crisis
  • Open to people of all ages
  • Phone: 13 11 14

ReachOut.com

  • An anonymous, 24/7 chat service
  • Heaps of facts and info, stories, videos, blogs and forums

Headspace

  • National youth mental health foundation
  • Help with mental health, work and study, or any issues you may be having
  • Chat one-on-one to a clinician online, or email
  • Find a centre
  • Phone: 1800 650 890

You can also check out our blog on 5 ways to get mental health support without talking on the phone.

“I’m too embarrassed” (29%) or “there’s negative stigma” (20%)

Mental health stigma is a huge reason why people don’t seek help. Would you be embarrassed about trying to improve your physical health? Probably not, because it’s a healthy, positive improvement to your life – and same goes for bettering your mental health.

Mental illness is just as valid as physical illness, and talking about it can help you connect with others who are going through the same thing (trust us, you’ll be surprised at how many there are).

There is absolutely no shame in recovery, and seeking help is important for everyone.

“I don’t want to appear weak”(16%) or “I don’t want to admit I need support” (17%)

News flash: mental health issues are not a sign of weakness.

A sign of weakness is not reaching out because you’re scared of what others might think. A sign of strength is having the bravery to talk about your issues and ask for the help you need.

Think about your favourite role-model – whether it be an athlete, musician, or someone you know. We can guarantee they would have had to ask for help at some point in their life, and you wouldn’t think less of them for that, would you? Be kind to yourself, and be empowered to make the changes you need in your life.

“I have no-one to talk to” (14%)

Another huge misconception. There is always someone you can talk to about the way you’re feeling. Even if you feel like you can’t talk to someone in your current every-day life, there are helplines, online communities, mental wellbeing apps, free counselling, local community health centres, and social support resources out there.

Everyone feels lonely sometimes, but it’s important to recognise that there are always ways to connect with others and break out of self-isolation.

What should I do if I’m feeling down?

There are a few signs that might help you notice that you’re feeling down. You could be feeling sad, hopeless, or empty; you could feel very tired, or be sleeping too much; you could have trouble sleeping; or you could find that you’re not getting pleasure from activities you usually enjoy.

There are lots of symptoms of depression, and these are just some of them. It’s important to get help when you need it, and it’s best to talk to a trusted adult or reach out to your doctor about these feelings.

If you, or someone you know, is having suicidal thoughts and is in immediate danger, call emergency services -triple zero (000) in Australia. To talk to someone now, call Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Some self-help strategies you can try at home include:

  • Talking about it
  • Seeking help from an online community
  • Practising meditation and mindfulness
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating healthy
  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs
  • Enjoying plenty of sunshine and outdoor activity
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Making time for things you enjoy
  • Socialising in-person with supportive friends
  • Trying a creative outlet
  • Journaling for men

Where can I get help?

There are loads of resources in place targeted specifically for male mental health. As well as talking about it with your friends, family, and a mental health professional, we’ve put together some places you can seek help:

MensLine Australia

  • Free telephone service – call 1300 78 99 78 
  • Online chat and video counselling
  • Information and articles about mental health, for men
  • Assisted referrals
  • 24/hour support

HealthDirect

  • Male-targeted mental health resources
  • Health service locator
  • Tips and support

Our GP Complex

  • Men’s mental health and suicide prevention
  • Anxiety and depression checklist
  • Mental health resources

Lifeline

Heads Up Guys

  • Recommended resources for men
  • Mental health self-check
  • Find a therapist
  • Self-help articles and stories
  • Self-guided courses
  • Roadmap to recovery

Man Therapy

  • Crisis support
  • Humour to get men thinking and talking about mental health
  • Provider directory
  • National resources hub
  • Mental health check

Men’s Minds Matter

  • Suicide prevention and intervention
  • Face-to-face and online intervention
  • Men’s mental health blog
  • Resources
  • Self-help

Does the conversation end after IMHW?

Short answer: no way! Male mental health is a widespread issue that doesn’t just go away, and mental health among young people in particular is something we need to bring to the forefront of our discussions. There is always help out there, no matter when you decide to reach out.

We also have loads more health and wellbeing tips here, and are dedicated to keeping the conversation going about how we can better help young people in all aspects of life.

Whether you’re interested in studying, working, or growing, here at SWG we have it all.

To keep with the theme of wellbeing, you might like to check out how to handle an uncomfortable work environment or the importance of self-care for high school students.

Need help? Support is available

AUSTRALIA

If you are in an emergency situation or need immediate assistance, always call 000.

Urgent Help
Lifeline: Call 13 19 40 | Text 0477 13 11 14 | lifeline.org.au
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 | beyondblue.org.au
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467 | suicidecallbackservice.org.au

Youth
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 | kidshelpline.com.au
headspace: headspace.org.au

First Nations
13YARN: 13 92 76 | 13yarn.org.au
Thirrili: 1800 805 801 | thirrili.com.au

Domestic Violence
1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732 | 1800respect.org.au

LGBTQIA+
QLife: 1800 184 527 | qlife.org.au

Veterans
Open Arms: 1800 011 046 | openarms.gov.au

NEW ZEALAND

If you are in an emergency situation or need immediate assistance, always call 111.

Urgent Help
Lifeline: Call 0800 543 354 | Text 4357 | lifeline.org.nz
TAUTOKO Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 | samaritans.org.nz
Need to Talk?: 1737 | 1737.org.nz

Youth
Youthline: Call 0800 376 633 | Text 234 | youthline.co.nz
What’s Up: 0800 942 8787 | whatsup.co.nz

Older People
Seniorline: 0800 725 463 | seniorline.org.nz

Domestic Violence
Shine: 0508 744 633 | 2shine.org.nz

Men
He Waka Tapu: 0800 439 252 | hewakatapu.org.nz

LGBTQIA+
OutLine: 0800 688 5463 | outline.org.nz

Māori & Pasifika
Vaka Tautua: 0800 652 535 | vakatautua.co.nz
Whetu Helpline: 0800 494 388 | pw.maori.nz

CALD
Asian Family Services: 0800 862 342 | asianfamilyservices.nz

UNITED KINGDOM

If you are in an emergency situation or need immediate assistance, always call 999.

Urgent Help
Samaritans: 116 123 | samaritans.org
SANEline: 0300 304 7000 | sane.org.uk
Shout Crisis Text Line: Text SHOUT to 85258 | giveusashout.org

Welsh
Samaritans Welsh: 0808 164 0123 | samaritans.org/samaritans-cymru
C.A.L.L.: Call 0800 132 737 | Text HELP to 81066 | callhelpline.org.uk

Older People
Age UK: 0800 678 1602 | ageuk.org.uk
Age Cymru: 0300 303 44 98 | ageuk.org.uk/cymru

Domestic Violence
Juno Women’s Aid: 0808 800 0340 | junowomensaid.org.uk
Men Standing Up Helpline: 0300 3030 167 | bradfordcyrenians.org.uk/men-standing-up

LGBTQIA+
Switchboard: 0800 0119 100 | switchboard.lgbt
Galop LGBT+ Hate Crime Helpline: 020 7704 2040

Immigrants & Refugees
Barnardo’s Boloh Helpline (for asylum seekers): 0800 151 2605 | helpline.barnardos.org.uk/boloh-helpline
Migrant Help UK: 0808 801 0503 | migranthelpuk.org

CALD
Muslim Youth Helpline: 0808 808 2008
EYST Wales: 0808 801 0720

IRELAND

If you are in an emergency situation or need immediate assistance, always call 999 or 112.

Urgent Help
Samaritans: 116 123
Pieta: 1800 247 247
Text About It: Text HELLO to 50808

Youth
Childline: 1800 66 66 66
Teenline: 1800 833 634

Older People
ALONE: 0818 222 024
Senior Line: 1800 804 591

Domestic Violence
Women’s Aid: 1800 341 900
Men’s Aid Ireland: 01 554 3811

LGBTQIA+
LGBT Ireland: 1890 929 539
The Switchboard: 01 872 1055

Immigrants & Refugees
Immigrant Council of Ireland: 01 674 0200

CALD
Cairde: 01 855 2111

UNITED STATES

If you are in an emergency situation or need immediate assistance, always call 911.

Urgent Help
Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741 741
NAMI Hotline: 800 950 6264

Youth
The Youthline: 877 968 8491
Teen Line: 800 852 8336

First Nations
Crisis Line for Racial Equity: 503 575 3764
StrongHearts Helpline: 1 844 762 8483

Domestic Violence
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1 800 799 7233
STAND!: 888 215 5555

LGBTQIA+
The Trevor Project: 1 866 488 7386
The Trans Lifeline: 1 877 565 8860

Immigrants & Refugees
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights: 1 510 465 1984

CALD
Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio: 888 628 9454

CANADA

If you are in an emergency situation or need immediate assistance, always call 911.

Urgent Help
Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988
Talk Suicide: 1 833 456 4566
The Listening Ear Crisis Hotline: 517 337 1717

Youth
Kids Help Phone: 1 800 668 6868
Or text CONNECT to 686868

First Nations
Hope for Wellness: 1 855 242 3310
Or chat online at hopeforwellness.ca

Domestic Violence
Family Violence Info Line: 780 310 1818
Fem’aide (French): 1 877 336 2433

LGBTQIA+
LGBT National Hotline: 1 888 843 4564
The Trans Lifeline: 1 877 330 6366

Immigrants & Refugees
Refugee HealthLine: 1 866 286 4770

CALD
Multicultural Mental Health Resource Centre: multiculturalmentalhealth.ca

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