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How Do You Break The Stigma Attached To Mental Health In Young Men?

11/11/2016 17:03

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Did you know that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year That suicide it the biggest killer of men under 45? This needs to change.

I'm calling on men to open up about their mental health, because bottling it up doesn't help. I hope that by sharing my story, it will encourage other men to speak out. I know that young men do struggle, because of the stigma that is attached to speaking out if you're a man.

Mental health shouldn't be a taboo subject. It took me two years to get help - and that was only because my family persuaded me.

I've suffered from anxiety and depression throughout my late teens and early 20s. Usually, there is a trigger and mine, unfortunately, came in the form of being mugged. When I was 15 or 16-years-old I was walking to a friend's house, and I passed a group of guys huddled around a car. I hurried past, but then I heard my name being called. They must have known me from somewhere.

A man put his hand upon my shoulder and pushed me against a fence. Frightened and completely confused, I had no option but to comply. I handed over my three-week-old Blackberry Curve 8520 and my wallet, only to find a fist flying toward my face. Dazed and confused I heard a distant voice calmly say, "if you ever tell anyone. I'll kill you."

Initially, I thought I was fine. I would walk to my friend's house, play football, hang out with my mates - all the usual routines. Then all of a sudden, I stopped. I would make excuses not to go out with friends unless they came to mine. No more football. No more hanging out. I just shut down.

My downward spiral continued for six months, progressively getting worse. I would leave my house only when I had to - for work or to go to the supermarket - and I would get my dad to drive me. In a matter of months, I went from a happy, outgoing, carefree teenager to a hermit.

I couldn't explain how I felt as the pain was too much. Even though I was suffering, I didn't realise I had a problem. Even my body was even telling me something was up - I would get heart palpitations, lose concentration, and my body would ache all over.

My family noticed that I was unwell and persuaded me to see my GP. The next step was therapy. No words can describe the feeling of releasing almost two years' worth of pain. I felt amazing. My confidence slowly came back, along with my laugh. Now I'm happy to go anywhere, do anything and speak to anyone.

I know recovery is different for everyone; some methods of therapy will work, some won't. The hardest part is just staying focused. So, that's my story. In no way would I like to gain any sympathy from this.

With Fixers, the charity which gives young people a voice, I've been campaigning to break the stigma concerning men and mental health. For my project, I've been working with other young men and finding out why they're so reluctant to speak about their feelings. Recently, I appeared on ITV talking about my Fixers project.

We found that talking about problems helped, because you knew you weren't on your own. One way to help yourself is to talk to someone you trust. Talking about your problem and admitting you need help is the first step. Everything after that is manageable, I promise you. I'm proof that you can fight and succeed. To find out more about Fixers, or to make a donation, visit fixers.org.uk

HuffPost UK is running a month-long focus around men to highlight the pressures they face around identity and to raise awareness of the epidemic of suicide. To address some of the issues at hand, Building Modern Men presents a snapshot of life for men, the difficulty in expressing emotion, the challenges of speaking out, as well as kick starting conversations around male body image, LGBT identity, male friendship and mental health.

To blog for Building Modern Men, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com. If you would like to read our features focused around men, click here

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