Movember reflections, changing the face of men’s mental health

As Movember 2021 comes to a close, it is important to reflect and connect back to the bigger meaning behind the month and the movement, which is changing the face of men’s health. This includes mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

The statistics say it all. Men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women.

Men are also more likely to experience mental disorders across three categories (e.g. anxiety, depression, and alcohol abuse). One in eight men will experience depression, and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage in their life. Men are also more than twice as likely to have experienced substance use disorder than women (7.0% compared to 3.3%).

Factors that contribute to high rates of men’s mental heath

Having a mental health disorder is a major predictor of suicide. Depression contributes to the highest suicide rates in men; however, other factors also contribute to men’s suicide. These include:

  • Relationship issues,
  • Family history,
  • Bereavement,
  • Legal matters,
  • Job insecurity,
  • Financial pressures, and
  • Gambling addictions (which is one of the most significant factors contributing to poor mental health in men).
Men seeking support

Men are far less likely to seek mental health treatment than women. Statistics show that only 27% of men reach out for support for their mental health concerns, compared to 40% of women. The stigma of men’s mental health’s is an extreme barrier to those needing mental health treatment. Society’s negative attitudes towards men’s mental illness can include looking weak, incompetent, or not manly enough. These attitudes may lead to embarrassment and shame when men seek support, which can ultimately lead to difficulty in expressing emotions, which can be harmful to their mental health.

Recognising the early warning signs

So what can you do to help take action for men’s mental health? Recognising the early warning signs that a mate may not be okay and is struggling with their mental health, can help them to seek support and take action early to stop a little problem from becoming a bigger one.

So, what are some of the early warning signs?

  • Feelings of sadness, irritability, or emptiness
  • Decreased interest of pleasure in most activities
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Feelings of worthlessness

You can also ask yourself:

  • What are they saying? Are they talking about how they feel down / overwhelmed?
  • Are they saying they feel alone? There may be a sense of disconnection, where they feel they don’t belong.
  • What are they doing? Are they ignoring phone calls which they always used to answer?
  • Have they stopped doing the things they love?
  • Has their appearance changed? Have they visibly put on or lost weight? These can all be indicators of changes to their diet, exercise, or misuse of drugs/ alcohol.

Reaching out and having a conversation to a mate who may be struggling

As we reflect on Movember, it is important to take forward our knowledge and learnings into our daily lives, and not let it stop just because the month is over. So as we start to reach the end of the year, reach out to a mate who might be having a tough time. Have the courage to ask R U OK?, and really listen without judgement.

Men talk when they walk. So give your mate a call and ask to catch up. Pick an activity you both enjoy doing, whether it’s going for a walk, going for a drive, or kicking the footy. By engaging in an activity, you can ease into the conversation. Men open up more willingly when they are shoulder to shoulder.

By asking R U OK?, you might just save a life.

The Centre for Corporate Health has a range of services available to assist workplaces tailor their support for men’s mental health. If you would like to discuss any of these services with us, contact us on 02 8243 1500 or admin@cfch.com.au. For more information on how to create a mentally healthy workplace, visit our website.