We are delighted to hear that the organiser’s behind the Movember movement are turning their focus this year to men’s Mental Health. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-29841063
It is our considerable experience that physical and mental health are not separate matters but two aspects of well-being and resilience that overlap and have a clear cause and effect relationship; they affect and contribute to each other.
In building resilience to mental health, and in treatment for Mental Disorders, we need to accept that both areas of our lives need focus and attention. Poor physical health increases the risk of people developing mental health problems, while poor mental health is associated with an increased risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.
Hence our enthusiastic support of Movember’s excellent decision to include men’s mental health within the focus of a charity dedicated to men’s health.
Men, traditionally, are less likely to seek treatment for Mental Health issues such as depression and anxiety, or seek help when it is already very late. Mental health problems in men often go undetected or untreated. There are two main reasons for this.
Mental health problems in men often go undetected or untreated. There are two main reasons for this.Mental health problems in men often go undetected or untreated. There are two main reasons for this.
The first reason, and one that is not mentioned in the BBC article, is that men are often unaware that a problem exists in the first place; struggling to recognise or express symptoms of sadness, fear or hopelessness, as they see them as symptoms of not coping. As men, we are expected to be strong, to solve, to get on with things, and therefore any symptom of mental illness shows that we are weak. They rarely recognise it as a symptom of mental illness. Being strong forever, of course, is impossible. 77% of suicides in the UK are male. Every day, an average of 12 men decide to end their lives.
At our clinics, we find that many of the men we successfully treat for depression, anxiety and addiction disorders arrive under a huge burden of guilt that they somehow failed.
We find that depression is not something that happens to weak people, but something that happens to people who have to be strong for too long.
And this leads us to the second reason why few men are able to find the treatment they need; the stigma and shame they feel around their symptoms. Shame and embarrassment holds them back from talking about their problems and speaking to loved ones or professionals. They, instead, often turn to risk-taking behaviours to numb or avoid their feelings of pain. Internal confusion and pain becomes external chaos.
We are proud that we work with men every day who have pushed through such unawareness of mental health problems, through the stigma and embarrassment, to accept the help we offer. And when they do, they flourish.
Thank you Movember, for embracing this crucial aspect of men’s Health, and thank you to all the men who turn to us for help, and pave the way for a real change that will allow men to be strong, but not for too long.