Covid 19 is taking its toll on all of us in many different ways for a many different reasons and as the latest quote so eloquently states ‘we are all in the same storm but we are not all in the same boat’ and what truth there is in that quote because we will all have found different ways of navigating our way through this particular storm. Loneliness, isolation, financial crisis, redundancy, unemployment, relationship breakdown, worry and fear has affected us at varying degrees and impact.
Statistics show that 1 in 4 people in the UK experience mental health issues at some point during each year and 1 in 6 people report experiencing a mental health concern on a weekly basis. Accumulatively there are approximately 20 million in the UK who will experience unpleasant symptoms from a common mental health issue. Life was stressful prior to Covid lockdown restrictions but the level of disruption in our lives will have had a major impact on our mental health for many different reasons. How many lads or men do you know, whether family, friends or colleagues who have talked openly about having difficulties with their mental health? It’s very likely that at least one of your family and/or social network will have experienced a mental health issue at some point in the past year or so. Stress, depression, anxiety doesn’t care about how much money you have in the bank, the job you do or the amount of friends you have. It doesn’t discriminate about gender type, whether you’re male or female, young or old, but it does continue to carry a heavy stigma around men and their reaction to mental health.
We live in a culture where men often feel pressure to conform to an unrealistic ‘man up’ mentality. ‘Real’ men aren’t supposed to be weak, break down or cry, they are supposed to be the breadwinners, to be strong, invincible and in control, as if they are some sort of super hero. But super heroes they aren’t; they also experience low moods, anxious thoughts and feelings, none of which makes them weak, it makes them human. For a lot of men, experiencing mental health problems can generate a feeling of hopelessness; of withdrawing from social groups and the family dynamic, losing interest in work or working too much, relationship issues, sleep disturbance and many other uncomfortable feelings associated with the black cloud of anxiety, low mood and depression. Research has shown that, while men can develop the regular symptoms of depression, they can also experience it quite differently to women and can have very different ways of coping too.
Men notoriously shy away from accepting that they have an emotional/mental health problem and the very thought of ‘opening up’ and sharing their feelings with family, friends or a practitioner is for many a ‘no can do’. Instead, finding ways of self-medicating with coping mechanisms like retreating in to their ‘man cave’, drinking too much alcohol, using recreational drugs appear to be a better option than addressing the issue, whilst hiding behind the façade of ‘normality’.
As the stress of trying to manage in silence accumulates, the symptoms of anxiety and depression can trigger intense worry, fear, anger, aggression, intrusive thoughts, sleepless nights and many other unpleasant emotional responses, all of which are only stifled cries for help that might have been pushed down for too long.
When anxiety and/or depression are ignored, it can have a serious effect on work and family life. Feelings of anguish and despair can be extremely debilitating for the sufferer and their families and at times create a very real cause for concern..
One of the most positive steps towards breaking down the barriers of mental health in men is the media coverage of famous sports personalities who have suffered the debilitating effects of poor mental health, all having openly discussed their personal challenges with depression and anxiety. Follow this link to read about each of them opening up about their own personal experience. You will see a further link alongside each article to read more about their journey on the road to recovery. 22 Male Athletes Speaking Out about Depression | HeadsUpGuys
By sharing their stories, these sportsmen have helped to reduce the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety in men. Evidence has shown that it’s also encouraged people to start conversations with their loved ones about their mental health, inspiring them to seek help.
Experiencing a mental health problem doesn’t mean that you’re weak or pathetic… it just means that you’re not superman, you are just human and that it really is ok to not be ok. Trying to tough it out alone makes life hard for everyone involved. It takes courage to seek help and support from a loved one or a professional, but it can be the most positive step towards making life a lot more manageable and enjoyable.
If you, or someone you know would like to find out more you can email me at email@example.com to request my eBook, The Road Map Out of Anxiety or by calling 07855054688 to arrange a no obligation chat on the phone to find out how I can help you to get the real you back.