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Men urged to keep check on theirs and their mates mental health during International Men’s Health Week

Published:11 June 2021

CQUni researcher Dr Rob Stanton.

With International Men’s Week underway, CQUniversity exercise and mental health researcher Dr Rob Stanton has encouraged men to keep an eye on each other’s wellbeing, talk to someone about their troubles and most of all, stay fit and healthy.

Men’s mental health is one of the key areas of focus for International Men’s Health Week (14-20 June), with men being encouraged to connect with the various health services available to help them deal with issues like depression.

Sadly, depression is one of the leading causes of suicide in men. According to beyondblue, seven Australian men die by suicide each day.

“Part of the problem is that men are far less likely to seek support for mental health conditions. Based on data from the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, only 27.5 per cent of men with a mental disorder had accessed support services, compared with 40.7 per cent of females,” Dr Stanton said.

“There are numerous services available for men to seek help including national hotline service such as beyondblue, MensLine, Lifeline, or the Suicide Callback service, that provide immediate counselling services to men experiencing distress,” he said.

“There are also a number of organisations such as Life in Mind (https://lifeinmind.org.au/), Male Suicide Prevention Australia (https://malesuicidepreventionaustralia.com.au/), and the Movember Foundation (https://au.movember.com/?home) that fund support programs, research, or advocacy to reduce men’s suicide in Australia and across the globe.”

Dr Stanton said while there are support services available to men, he believed more needed to be done to reduce the stigma surrounding help-seeking.

“Often, men are desperate to talk to someone, but experience such crippling fear, it’s impossible. Showing genuine interest, listening with intent, not being judgemental, and not trying to solve the ‘problem’ is the best approach. If necessary, step up and offer to support the person to seek help, but don’t try to be the help. Check in regularly to see how people are going and providing support, encouragement during conversations is important. It’s also important for men to know someone genuinely cares as they often feel alone in these situations. beyondblue and RUOK days websites have excellent resources to help men start the conversation,” he said.

“Men need to take a moment to look after their mates, especially if they see a change in behaviour such as withdrawing from activities they would normally enjoy, or a change on language that might indicate all is not well. Being brave and vulnerable in these situations can change a life or save a life.”

“To this end, a number of industry specific programs such as Mates in Construction are gaining traction to reduce workers concerns about mental health and provide support to those in need.

“Key factors to help men help themselves include knowing that they are not alone. Strategies such as RUOK day are a great start, but in reality, every day should be RUOK day.

“Men also need to do their best to stay healthy. Diet and exercise are important, but social connectedness is also very important, especially after retirement and as we get older. Staying connected to people reduces loneliness and since men experience loneliness more than women, spending time with friends, ideally in person, is very important. One way to do this and experience a sense of gratitude is through volunteering. It gives men a sense of purpose, increases the circle of friends, and can provide an opportunity to learn new skills.”

If you or someone you know needs to speak to someone, consider the following National Support Services:

Lifeline 24 Hour Crisis Line: 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732

Women’s Crisis Line: 1800 811 811

Mensline Australia: 1300 789 978

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636

Headspace: 1800 650 890

SANE Australia: 1800 187 263