Life can be stressful. Whether it be challenges with work or finances, the breakdown of a relationship, overwhelming family responsibilities, or a significant setback; all of these can take a serious toll on your mental health if left unchecked. Many men, young and old, tough it out and struggle alone. Devastatingly, men take their own lives at four times the rate of women (ABS, 2018).
Establishing and maintaining relationships, talking about the hard stuff in life and taking action when times get tough are proven ways for men to stay mentally healthy and cope with the stress of everyday life.
This Men’s Health Week (10-16 June 2019), you can take your mateship to the next level with these three tips from Lifeline WA Prevention Services Manager, James D’Alesio.
1. STEP UP AND REACH OUT
- Step up and reach out to your mates. Send them a text, give them a call, or just stop and have a chat.
- Not everyone is in the right mindset to reach out for support, so sometimes it helps to offer it, or to let people know we are there for them when they need.
- If that person who needs support is you, why not ask for help? Generally, as males, we aren’t very good at this. But research shows that help seeking behaviour can make all the difference when it comes to keeping well.
- Don’t be flaky. Lock in a date and time to meet. Make a commitment and stick to it. You never know the difference it might make to that person.
- If they are unavailable, make a point to check-in and follow up with them at a later date.
- Make time for your mates, you never know when you will need each other for support.
2. CATCH UP
- Get together and do an activity you both enjoy doing or try something new. Mates dates are a thing, and the perfect way to open up lines of communication. Whether it be going for a run together, a hit of golf, having a feed at the pub or kicking a footy together – spend time together and make an effort to get to know each other.
- Men often talk more openly when they’re doing stuff together, shoulder-to-shoulder.
- If you’re feeling lonely, reach out to a men’s group in your local community or join your local Men’s Shed. You’ll be surprised at how many other blokes are in the same boat!
3. SPEAK UP
- Sense something’s up? Now’s your chance to let them know you’re there. Be present and try to listen without judgement. This is not the right time for a slap on the back and a “she’ll be right”.
- Remember a conversation could change a life and the simple gesture of compassion can have a profound effect on someone who is going through tough times.
- Worrying about doing and saying the right thing for your mate is only natural. No matter how unsure you may feel about the support you are offering, what matters most is that you are genuinely concerned and want to help. Try to be your kindest self and trust your instincts.
- Be proactive in helping your mate get the help they and you need. Recommend they use available free hotlines such as Mensline (available 24/7, call 1300 78 99 78) or Lifeline (available 24/7 on 13 11 14) for advice, or encourage they speak with a trusted GP. Be persistent if they are not keen the first time, and perhaps offer to make the call with them or go with them to an appointment.
As men, we have a habit of losing touch with our social circles as we grow older and spend more time managing the daily stresses of life and family. If we could all make an effort to spend more time with our mates, step by step we can feel more connected and supported. This can make all the difference when times are tough.
By James D’Alesio
Prevention Services Manager, Lifeline WA
If you are in crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 available 24/7.