When it comes to mental health, the stats are hard to ignore: men account for three-quarters of suicides registered in the UK, and it’s thought that 12.5 per cent of men in the UK are suffering from a common mental health disorder.
But that doesn’t mean men are getting the treatment they need. In fact, men are considerably less likely to access psychological therapies than women, with just 36 per cent of referrals to IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies, an NHS programme in England that offers approved interventions for the treatment of depression and anxiety) being men.
So, with these statistics in mind, it’s more important than ever to reach out to brothers, fathers, granddads, uncles, partners and friends to encourage speaking out about or seeking treatment for mental health issues – especially if they may be suffering in silence. Here’s how you can help:
1. Schedule an appointment
Encourage your relative or friend to speak to his GP. His regular doctor should be able to determine if he’s suffering with a mental health issue or if there could be another underlying cause for his low mood or feelings of anxiety or stress, and will be able to refer him to a specialist or mental health programme if required.
2. Be all ears
Often, having a trusted person to speak to can make all the difference. Let your relative or friend know that you’re always available to lend an ear if he’s having a bad day, struggling with a specific problem, or simply needs to let go of his emotions. Be clear that you’re there for support, and that you’ll be an open-minded listener. And when he is ready to talk, don’t interrupt, talk over or judge him. Simply listen.
3. Show you care
Exercise has been shown to benefit mental health and wellbeing, so encourage movement by suggesting activities you could do together. It could be a sport he loves but doesn’t play, something he’s always wanted to try, or a brand new activity to test out together. It’s not only a healthy way to spend time together, it could also help to alleviate any mental health issues he may be suffering.
4. Share a meal
Some foods can have an adverse affect on mood. For example, sugary foods are absorbed into the bloodstream more quickly than low-sugar foods, which can lead to an initial burst of energy that soon wears off, leading to fatigue and low mood. Instead, suggest cooking a healthy meal together – think a fresh dish made with plenty of ZeroPoint™ foods – and then share your creation. It’s an opportunity to talk over dinner, and it could encourage him to make healthier eating choices in future, even if he’d rather reach for convenience foods.