As we move on from what we hope will be the worst of the pandemic, concerns and worries about our mental health still remains.
It’s Men’s Health Week 2021 (14-21 June) and the Men’s Health Forum asks: how do we move forward?
Men’s mental health has been an issue for a long time. Research shows that ‘one in eight men have a common mental health problem’.  There are many factors which have made things worse for men specifically. One of these is isolation.
With recurring lockdowns and strict social distancing measures it has been difficult to meet up with our friends and family. This can result in many of us, men included, feeling isolated. Even though every lockdown was vital to keeping the virus under control, the covid-19 pandemic took a huge toll on the worlds mental health.
“We have this kind of male pride thing. We say, ‘I can look after myself. I don’t need to talk to anyone,’ and it’s a complete fallacy. Not communicating helps to kill us.”
– Mike Jenn, Researchers Confront an Epidemic of Loneliness
For men, crucial work needs to be done to raise awareness and help them with their mental health concerns. The idea of stigma associated with speaking out about this needs to be challenged. Men deserve to be seen as brave for talking about these issues and taken seriously. Research has shown that ‘three times as many men as women die by suicide’.  Even though mental health issues are prevalent in men, ‘only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men’.  This shows that men may feel less able to talk about how they are struggling.
The continual exposure to death for many has also affected us on a global level. On June 2nd, 2021, there have been 3,578,452 covid-19 deaths according to world statistics.  Men have been affected largely due to the fact that more males than females have died. ‘In 38 out of 43 countries for which provisional data were available, as of June 10, 2020, more men than women have died from COVID-19 despite a similar number of confirmed cases for each sex’. 
Why has men’s health been overlooked?
From the Margins to the Mainstream, Global Action on Men’s Health’s new report, explores why men’s health has been neglected. ‘Although gender has generally been a marginal issue in health policy, where it has been addressed, it has often been incorrectly linked with women. Other factors include inadequate awareness and knowledge among policy makers of men’s health issues and the absence of political will to push men’s health issues onto policy agendas.’ 
While many of us are looking forward to the pandemic restrictions lifting and getting our vaccinations, the impact of the virus will be with us for a while. So, how can we look after our mental health and raise awareness of men’s mental health in particular?
A good start would be to recognise that our lives becoming busier and industries reopening won’t be as easy for some people. For those who suffer with anxiety, the idea of facing crowds of people in large areas may sound terrifying. And the need to ease into post-lockdown life may be necessary.
It is vital that we help ourselves and other people, especially men, to find the treatments and care they so desperately need. The pandemic has not only worsened our mental health, but enlarged existing problems for everyone.
Only by highlighting these issues, and other societal topics, can we start to make a change for the better.
So, if you are someone who suffers with mental health problems you can do the following:
- Read about mental health to get advice.
- Talk to someone trustworthy about it -e.g. your doctor/friend/partner/family member.
- Search for case studies about what other men have experienced.
- Discover strategies for keeping yourself well – e.g. socialising with friends, exercise, writing, regular meditation.
- Find a free support group near you.
Here are some useful contact details if you need advice on mental health issues:
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35.
Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)
Men’s Health Forum
24/7 stress support for men by chat, text and email.
If you found this article interesting to read, check out these:
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