On International Men’s Day, Jack Wiseman looks at men and their mental health.
As a male in my mid-20s, if I were to die in the next 20 or so years, the most likely cause of my death will be suicide. That statistic is not linked to my choice of a career! It is a statistic that applies to all males between 20-49 living in the UK.
I drive a car every day but, as a male, I am still more likely to die by suicide than a road accident. It’s also more likely that I’ll die by suicide as opposed to cancer or heart disease.
In the UK in 2017, 16 people died by suicide each day and 12 (three quarters) of those people are men.
These are worrying statistics and whilst they are improving, there is still much more to do to tackle the stigma and get men talking.
I have to be honest. I have never thought about ‘celebrating’ International Men’s Day… International Cake Day is a whole other story. However, I do think it is a good time to raise awareness of men’s mental health.
Men struggle to talk about their mental health. I am a Trustee of a local mental health charity, Solent Mind, and I lead a running group aimed at promoting better mental health. Even in those environments, I have in the past struggled talking openly if I was feeling low or stressed. It’s no surprise that in the legal sector, talking about mental health is probably unheard of to many.
It’s not about standing in a circle, holding hands and naming your feelings. It can be something much simpler. Time to Change launched the ‘Ask Twice’ campaign this year. We’ve probably all walked into the office and the first person we’ve seen has asked how we are and we just say ‘fine’. Most of the time we or the person we’re asking probably are fine but the ‘Ask Twice’ campaign focuses on just double checking. The next time you’re chatting to a friend or colleague, try asking twice just so they know you are there for them if needed.
I cannot write an article without mentioning running for better mental health. I’m currently training for the London Marathon for Solent Mind. Running is my escape and definitely helps with my wellbeing. It sounds oh so cheesy but it is backed up by science! So, if talking isn’t your thing but you feel you want to try to improve your wellbeing, I would always recommend getting outdoors for a walk or a run and just take it one step at a time.
For more information on the Ask Twice campaign and details of organisations that can help if you need support, the links below may help.