MAN UP and talk about it

I normally write my blog using my own personal experience of mental health but I think it's really important to highlight other issues that surround mental health such as that of the male population. It has been recorded that:
  • 76% of suicides are committed by men
  • 12.5% of men in the UK are suffering from a common mental health disorder
  • Men are three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent 
  • But despite this, only 36% of all referrals to talking therapies are men (reference)
Although I say that this isn't necessarily from my own perspective, I know of three men who have all had difficulties with their mental health in various capacities, so I know a little bit about it, but as I always say, I'm no psychologist!

I doubt many boys read this (I mean, not many people read this full stop!), but I think it's so important to try and change this attitude of 'just man up', 'boys don't cry', 'you're such a girl' when boys/men talk about their feelings. All humans whether you're a man, woman or anything else you identify as, have a brain, and within your brain you'll have a hippocampus, hypothalamus and limbic system which all control mood and emotions. This attitude doesn't just come from 'lads' either, most the time these attitudes are instilled into us through behaviours of our parents. And I know if any parents are reading this may think 'well that was how I was brought up', but that's irrelevant. People from generations previous had slaves, that doesn't mean we have that attitude because it was how we were brought up. Instead, use that experience and change it. Let your son know that it's okay to cry, okay to feel sad, okay to talk about how they're feeling, it doesn't make them any 'less' of a man for doing so.

Yes, I'm one of those people that loves a bit of reality TV, whether it's Love Island, Made in Chelsea or TOWIE, I'm not ashamed to say so (but maybe I should be?!). On TOWIE a few weeks ago Tommy Mallet spoke about how he had been struggling with his mental health but how he felt he couldn't talk about it because he needed to 'be a man' about it. If you don't watch TOWIE, Tommy is your typical 'rough-n-ready', cockney lad's lad who you would never expect to cry on camera, but he did. Him and the other boys even came together to create a campaign called 'I cry because' and #boysbareall where they stripped off and held the reason they cry over their 'areas' to show that it's okay for men to cry! This gained national attention and Tommy has since been on various talk-shows to promote men talking about their mental health.

I know from my own experience how stubborn men can be when talking about their emotions, it's like drawing blood from a stone! But if you get the sense that someone you know is having difficulties with their emotions, it doesn't even need to be a mental illness, it can be stress, or heartbreak or whatever emotion they're feeling, just keep trying. You may feel like you're nagging, but sometimes it's what they need; they need someone to show that they're there and that they can help. So many men end their lives because they feel like there's nobody to help or that they can't talk about it - look at Robin Williams, Kurt Cobain, Alexander McQueen, and so many more. You'd maybe look at these people and wonder what they have to be depressed about (which is a topic I also covered here), but who knows, maybe if they felt like they could speak to someone about it, they may still be alive.

And if you're reading this as someone who feels they can't speak to anyone about how you're feeling, please do it. Even if you don't tell that person all of the details, you just tell them that you're struggling, they can check in with you, they can be someone who you can go to if you feel like you can't hold it in any longer, it will help. There's nothing wrong with a man that cries, a man that feels, a man that opens up -


Look after one another,

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