This week there was a fair amount of talk about a 'well known celebrity' (rolls eyes) talking about male mental health and how men should shut up, "be a man" and get over it. My response is mixed, heres why.
I have 3 main thoughts on this persons view (sorry I am not naming that person. I have no desire to give them more publicity).
1. NO! Men should not keep quiet. We need to encourage more men to speak about their experiences. Not everyone will want or feel the need to and thats ok. This is not a cult, everyone will have their own way of accepting, dealing with and acknowledging their thoughts, feelings and emotions. But we must acknowledge the danger of not talking about this topic and make sure people feel able to discuss their own thoughts, feelings and emotions in a safe space. Why is that important? Well...
Here are some facts listed on 'Men's Health Forum' on 6th May 2017.
Just over three out of four suicides (76%) are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35
12.5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders
Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women - Health and Social Care Information Centre)
Men are more likely to use (and die from) illegal drugs
Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women. Only 36% of referrals to IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) are men.
While I usually have a strong dislike for segregated statistics or focus, this shows a clear indication that male mental health is something that needs to be taken more seriously.
To be clear I don't think more men are affected by mental health than women. However, I do think that men are seemingly less likely to come forward to talk or seek support for these issues and illnesses. Even this doesn't exclude women though. As every women will have at least one of these: a dad, brother, lover, boyfriend, husband, friend, relative or acquaintance.
There is stigma around mental health and male mental health. So for a 'celebrity' to say such things are extremely dangerous! There maybe a male out there struggling and thinking about getting help, but because of these comments decides not to get help or speak out. That makes me so angry, because I know how hard it is to seek help.
2. Say something shocking. Im sure thats what some people think. I have seen it with individuals on twitter, they say it to get more coverage and exposure. They will say something they don't necessary agree with or believe. It is said purely for attention. There is often similar coverage from a former Apprentice candidate, now 'reporter', that is how she made her career. Just saying unpopular and often vile comments. Again not naming them, if you know them you know them, if not, you're better off!
3. Is he right about other 'celebrities'?
There are a lot more high profile individuals coming forward to talk about mental health and their own experience than ever before. Is it possible that some are making this up or exaggerating? Hell yes, there are some very egotistical people out there! However the more important question is does this matter? While it would annoy me that someone is making money from lying about their mental health experience, what really has it achieved? If the answer is more awareness of mental health and mental health illnesses and support then isn't that a good thing?
Well, that is what I choose to think. It helps to not get too invested in the are they making it up or exaggerating conversation. Instead I get to focus on the good that the coverage means.
There is also the probability that they are telling the truth. In this case, YAY! Kind of. Its very sad that they are being or have been affected by these illnesses. However the fact that despite the additional coverage their story will receive they have still sought support and chosen to speak about their struggles and experiences. For this I am grateful, their message will often reach more people than my story ever could, so that can only be good news.
I don't think too much about so called celebrities. I value those around me much more, those are people I know and interact with. At the end of the day we are all just walking sperm right (see previous post on how this is true)?
If you are struggling or would just like to find out about male mental health please check the links on my contacts page. You are not alone.
Images in this post provided by Wix.