This year for Men’s Health Week, let’s think about how we can better support the mental health of men and boys everywhere.
All of us can start by actively encouraging the men and boys in our lives to seek support for their mental health, and reassure them that reaching out is a sign of strength, not weakness.
We are all subject to the cultural stereotype that so many boys and men grow up with: the assumption that they are strong; that they can take it; that they will tough it out.
This façade masks a stark reality: in Australia, we know that in their lifetime, one in eight men is likely to experience depression and one in five will experience anxiety.
It is time to change the way we think and act when it comes to mental health and, in that, we all have a role to play. There are steps we can all take to support the mental health of our mates, our partners, brothers, sons or dads.
It could start with a simple conversation and Beyond Blue has advice about how to start one.
Small steps can enhance our wellbeing, which can prevent mental health issues emerging in the first place. Staying active, making time to socialise, and giving back to the community through volunteering, for example, can help.
Perhaps most importantly, men need to be looking out for each other.
These are important messages in light of what new research is telling us about men’s mental health in Australia.
Recently, we released the Beyond the Emergency report, the product of a three-year research project by Monash University and Turning Point, supported by Movember and Beyond Blue.
The project aimed to better understand the scale and nature of ambulance call outs to men presenting with acute mental health issues.
Researchers discovered that between July 2015 and June 2016, there were 112,637 ambulance attendances for men experiencing acute mental health issues. Of those:
- 20 percent were for more than one mental health issue;
- 10 percent were for anxiety, 9 percent were for depression, 8 percent were for psychosis;
- More than 60 percent involved alcohol or other drugs;
- 78 percent were transported to hospital;
- 42 percent had already presented to the ambulance service at least once;
- 60 percent of attendances occurred after-hours.
The positive news is that effective treatments are available and they can help men get their lives back on track.
The first step is seeking support.
Mental health professionals are available at the Beyond Blue Support Service via phone 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support for online chat (3PM – 12AM AEST or email responses within 24 hours).