'Don't Tell Us To Man Up!' - Young Men Share Advice for Others Suffering From Mental Illness

17/06/2016 14:59

It's Men's Health Week, and this year the focus is on mental health.

With statistics showing that 12.5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders, it's time we lifted the lid on men's mental health.

We asked young men who have campaigned with Fixers, the charity that gives young people a voice, what they would say to a man who didn't feel he could open up about his mental health.

The charity gives young people aged 16-25 the opportunity to campaign on any issue they feel strongly about, and many have chosen to tackle mental health.

Here are their top tips:

"From my own experience I would say it is important to be brave and open up to others. There is this farcical idea that it is unmanly to open up about your struggles or feelings, but when it comes to mental health everyone suffers. Be brave, be strong and open up."

"I'd stress how important it is to know that mental health has no gender and affects everyone. Understandably not everyone can speak up so easily so do so in your own time and in your own way to someone you can trust. You'll be surprised how people around you will respect you for speaking about it."

"Since living as male full time over the last 3 and a half years I have had an awful lot of comments regarding my mental health. People always say things like: 'you need to act like a man' or 'men aren't sad' when in reality mental health within men can be deadly, as most men are too ashamed to reach out for help. I personally think it is important for men to open up about their mental health as it can help them get the correct support, and help get rid of the stigma surrounding mental health within the male population."

"Hi, my name is Carney - Right now you are reading this and all you see is the name of someone who once suffered. Let me take a name on a screen and turn it into a person. I'm 22 and a student at the University of Gloucestershire. I've suffered with suicide attempts, self-harm, and self-destruction. I didn't want to open up about what happened to me because I was worried that people wouldn't look at me the same way. I was worried they would judge because a man shouldn't show his soft side. I was wrong.

Looking back on my experience, if I'd have spoken sooner I would have got help a lot sooner. It's not easy to be open but it is important to talk to a person you trust. I started to talk to my best friend, Matty. We are told men shouldn't cry, shouldn't hurt but why? I still have feelings, I still get upset and I still have my dark days but know that you are never truly alone.

I am now making my way through university. When I was going through all my problems at school, I was told I would be lucky to live, lucky to even be able to make it out of school alive. But I am more than a name on a screen, more than a name in a file, I am much more than the problems that come my way, and I was able to get over them and build. We will always build, our fight with mental illness isn't always going to be filled with wins, but the first breath you take today, the first step that got you out of your bed, and now the first sentences you are reading are your win. We win with making the first step, so please from me to you, don't be scared or worried to show what is behind the mask because behind the mask is a more beautiful person, a strong person, a fighter. Together we build."

If you're suffering from ill mental health, visit Mind's website for more advice.