Today we’re not just marking World Mental Health Day, we’re asking you “who cares?”
This day has made me reflect on our recent campaign for World Suicide Prevention Day, entitled “Suicide notes talk too late”, which we launched with the objective of not only bringing the issue of male suicide to light but to encourage men to talk when times get tough in their life, knowing how important this can be in terms of safeguarding men.
We created a powerful video that featured men reading from their actual suicide notes. Luckily in each instance, they didn’t take their life. The response we received was overwhelming. The comments for the video were positive, with many men resonating with the stories of the men who bravely shared their stories. The general public also responded in resounding support of our message around men needing to talk.
But there was one clear insight which stood out the most for myself and my team, men were reaching out to us to express that they felt that they didn’t have anyone they felt comfortable talking to. Countless messages on our social media channels started with the phrases ‘Nobody cares’, ‘Nobody listens’, ‘I have no one to talk to’…
This is of real concern.
If this sounds familiar, then you may be in the majority of people who happily admit that they can be there for their friends when they need them but feel conflicted when it comes to sharing your own issues. We know from a recently commissioned study, a world’s first, that the majority of men are more than happy to be there for a friend and yet would struggle themselves to open up to someone.
The Social Support gap:*
This disparity is something that needs to be addressed, so the Movember Foundation is using World Mental Health day to encourage each and every one of you to stand up and let your mates know that you absolutely can be counted on as someone who can be turned to when things get tough.
It sounds simple but for men, as with anyone, quality relationships with your friends, family members or colleagues are so important to one’s mental health and well-being. Research tells us that social isolation leads to an increased risk of mental health problems such as depression and even suicide.
We also know from the aforementioned study that men are increasingly isolated as their life gets busier with 1 in 4 men aged 30 to 65* admitting that they have few or no social connections. 1 in 3 are unsatisfied with the quality of their friendships. So let’s be aware of these facts and watch out for one another.
So what can we do to change things? Give thought to the men in your lives. Is there someone who you haven’t checked in with for a while? Is there someone who you suspect might be struggling? Perhaps they’ve been through a significant life event like, becoming a Dad for the first time, losing a job or a relationship break down. If yes, check in with them. Let them know you are there for them.
The Movember Foundation is the only charity tackling men’s health on a global scale, year round. We have one goal: to stop men dying too young. We’re achieving this by funding world class programs addressing some of the big issues in the areas of prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and suicide prevention. To date, we’ve funded over 1,200 men’s health projects.
Our work is only made possible by the incredible efforts of the Movember community during the month of November. If you’re keen to support our work, please sign up at Movember.com for 2016. Taking part not only enables us to fund vital men’s health projects around the world but it’s a good way to stay connected with others when taking part as a team.
*Men’s Social Connectedness, Hall & Partners/beyondblue June 2014
Sign up to be part of the world’s largest global men’s health movement now.
Photo credit: Owen Sharp/LinkedIn