The Office for National Statistics reported that 75% of the 6122 suicides in the UK in 2014 were undertaken by men. That's roughly 12 men every day. Shockingly, many of those will not have been in contact with any mental health professional. Only 53% of men who have felt depressed have actually spoken to anyone about it.
Throughout the history of mankind, the male persona has been the epitome of stoicism, strength and courage. The male heroes from childhood stories instil in us the (perhaps dangerous) notion that the best kind of man is all of these things, and therefore dependable in the face of great adversity. Maybe the need to be strong, physically and mentally, goes some way to explain why men often only seek help when the mental condition has become extreme, making it all the harder to treat.
I believe a mental health crisis is one of the greatest adversities a modern man will face. It transforms your own mind into an enemy that knows you better than anyone else. One that endlessly undermines your thoughts and actions, leaving you exhausted before you're even out of bed. From the moment you wake until you fall asleep, you're faced with the worst part of yourself. And it seems to threaten your masculinity; the very notions of stoicism and strength. It's the most personal war a man can face, forcing us into ourselves and away from the world; inaudible and unseen by the world around us, hardly the setting for a hero's triumph.
Courage and Strength
Turning the tide on this battle takes courage and strength, and the greatest weapon you have is your voice. Talking challenges the worthless, self deprecating mind set that accompanies mental health conditions, forcing these internal battles into the real world.
More often, talking takes place shoulder to shoulder with our friends and family. It's easy to dismiss talking about feelings because it won't change the way you feel, how you act or what you believe overnight. It does give you the chance to hear things from another person's perspective. We may not believe our friends or family when they tell us we are loved, that they care, and that there is the possibility we can find our way back to happiness. In our darkest moments however, when we stare into the depths of our condition and seek an end to life, those loving words may be the solitary light that guides us back from the edge.
Men with depression or any other mental health conditions are not alone. There is a huge percentage of men out there like them, but who aren't talking about it! If you are amongst the huge number of men suffering a mental health problem, having the strength to confide in someone and acknowledge the problem may actually be the most courageous thing you can ever do. And saving a life- your life- really is heroic.
Cammeron is a Digital Writer with YoungMinds. YoungMinds is the UK's leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people
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.
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