May is national Mental Health Month, and Denver7 is partnering with the Let’s Talk Colorado campaign to highlight the unique challenges men face to enjoying good mental health. This article has been furnished by Tom Skelley.
Depression, anxiety, stress and other challenges to our mental health affect men and women alike, but poor mental health has a disproportionate impact on men.
Research shows far higher rates of substance abuse, incarceration, homelessness and suicide among men, many of whom don’t report or seek help when they are dealing with money worries, relationship problems, work-related stress or other issues.
It can be painful to watch our fathers, husbands, brothers, sons, friends and coworkers when we know they’re struggling. And it can be difficult to reach out or get through to them, since men are conditioned not to talk about their emotions.
But we need to try.
The following is a list of some suggestions from mental health experts to help wives, girlfriends, friends, coworkers, neighbors and others show support and offer help to men they care about. You can find more tips on starting a conversation with someone, male or female, at www.LetsTalkCO.org.
· Look for signs: The most common major stressors men report are finances/financial security, job-related uncertainty, and family or relationship issues. If you know a man going through any of these, it’s quite possible his mental health is suffering for it. Men also exhibit different symptoms when they’re dealing with these issues. Increased substance use, irritability, anger, and risk-taking behavior are all symptoms men display when they’re under pressure.
· Ask, then ask again: It’s important to reach out when you suspect he’s struggling. It’s also important to realize if you ask a man how he’s doing, he’s likely to say “I’m fine,” so ask again later. Even if he doesn’t want to talk, checking in lets him know he doesn’t need to hide how he’s feeling around you.
· Be there: A man may not want to open up about his mental health, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want support. Doing things together like watching a game, fishing, walking, yardwork, etc. can help a man when he’s down. Even if it doesn’t lead to him opening up, you’re reminding him he’s important to you, something that can be easy to lose sight of for someone who’s struggling.
· Listen: It can make us uncomfortable when someone does begin telling us about their problems. We often want to reassure someone (and get past the awkwardness) by changing the subject, talking about ourselves or offering platitudes like “this too shall pass.” Many men report that when they do open up to someone, they don’t feel like they were heard. When a man does tell you how he’s feeling, just listen, actively and thoughtfully. You don’t need to offer solutions, just let him talk and let him know he isn’t alone.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis such as relationship problems, family emergency, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, bullying or stress, Colorado Crisis Services offers free, confidential and immediate help, with trained counselors available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Call 1-844-493-8255, text “TALK” to 38255or go to coloradocrisisservices.org to chat online or find locations of walk-in clinics.