Hi there. How are you? Let me make us a cup of tea and let’s have a chat.
Hi there. I hope that you have all had a good week. For those of you who are familiar with my blogs, you will know that I make a post at the end of each week, so me posting a blog today on Thursday 10th October may be a bit of a surprise and out of character. There is a reason for it though.
Today is World Mental Health Day.
As some of you know who follow my weekly blogs, each week I look at things which are either experienced by lived experience of the moment and or inspired by the fitness and wellness journey that I am currently on. I also look at the wellness including the mind and body of others, as well as days or events which may look to support fitness and wellness. I am inspired today to talk about World Mental Health Day. I am inspired for several reasons. One, I work in the mental health industry and I guess this is at the forefront of my focus. Two, there appears to be a lot more positive focus in the press about breaking down some of the stigmas around mental health and mental illness, and people are talking more about it, which is good for those who need support. It is good to talk about mental health and mental wellbeing every day, but I suppose it is also good to talk about mental health on a specific day with a specific focus, to shine light on an issue and look at ways to approach the issue and provide support for those in need.
What is World Mental Health Day all about?
According to the Mental Health Foundation (2019), the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises World Mental Health Day to fall on the 10th of October each year. Every year there is an idea or theme that is raised and discussed, to highlight areas of focus and care attention which are needed in the mental health services.
This year the theme is around suicide prevention.
I know it is not an easy thing to talk about but it is an important thing to talk about. Suicide is a difficult subject to talk about as it can be quite contentious and divisive, with some people having a rational view against it and some people having a rational view where the motives are understood and validated. I guess any which way we look at suicide, it is a tragedy and a cry for help gone unheard. Those affected are those left behind, the families and the loved ones. Suicide can have a devastating effect on those left behind.
So what can we do about it?
Talking is the first thing you can do, and it can be incredibly useful and invaluable to explore how you feel and to talk about your negative thoughts. If you or someone you know is having negative thoughts including thoughts they want to harm themself, the following table (see below) may help:
Recognising signs of distress and changes of behaviour is important. If a friend or loved one begins to start acting out of character, ask them how they are and what they may have on their mind. See what it is on their mind and whether they are having any thoughts or ideas to harm themself. If you can, make the area safe and remove any items that may be of risk to the person.
Reassuring others can also go a long way to helping them to manage their negative thoughts. Talk to the person and encourage them to see a GP or seek professional help. If you feel that you may have thoughts of harming yourself, please talk to your GP or seek professional help.
In my blog “It is ok to ask if you need a bit of help” (link: https://fitforanyage.co.uk/2019/04/26/it-is-ok-to-ask-if-you-need-a-bit-of-help/ ) I suggest that we are not alone and that we do not have to do this alone.
There is nothing wrong in asking for help, and great strength and personal growth can be gained by being supported and by being able to support.
In my blog “About Love Island”, I look at mental health and how celebrities were effected by the show, with some leading to ending their lives due to poor support with their mental health and wellbeing (link: https://fitforanyage.co.uk/2019/06/07/about-love-island/ ).
We are all affected by mental health and mental illness. What is important more than ever is to talk about it.
According to Counselling Directory (2018), mental health problems effect men and women differently, and that on average more women are diagnosed to have a mental health illness, and that the rate of male suicide is significantly higher.
This may suggest that whilst men suffer from mental illnesses, that they may not be receiving or seeking the appropriate treatment. It is suggested that one in five women and one in eight men are diagnosed with a common mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.
Why men don’t talk about their feelings.
There are a few reasons why men don’t talk about their feelings. One reason is stigma.
Cambule (2014) suggests that part of the stigma that still exists about mental health for men is that men have greater difficulty talking about their own struggles than women do. Cambule (2014) suggests that one reason why men find it difficult to talk about their feelings is that they are still faced with some outdated stereotypes that men need to embody strength, be the hunter-gatherer, the idea that strong and silent is desirable, the “show no weakness” bravado of heroes in our media.
The main reason experts suspect more men are affected by mental health problems than is reported is the high number of male suicide. According to Counselling Directory (2018), in a study conducted in 2014, 4 in 5 suicides were seen to be done by men, and that the majority of these men were under the age of 35.
A 2012 study carried out by The Samaritans looked into the factors that might help to explain why certain groups of men are more likely than women to commit suicide. Two important risk factors found were age and socioeconomic status. Middle-aged men were found to be particularly at risk, with numbers of suicides in males aged 45-59 increasing over the last five years.
Of course this is not to say that women are also not affected by suicide.
Both men and women are affected by suicide or having suicidal thoughts.
Ask for help if you need to.
Asking for help is also about being kind to yourself. We are often very self-critical and think that we can do it alone. As mentioned above, it is ok to ask and there are many benefits to asking for help. What is also important is being kind to yourself.
If you need to, call a friend or family member. You are not alone. If you need to, please talk to your GP or a health professional. The help is out there.
There is also the Samaritans service, which is a 24 hour service which helps people in mental and emotional crisis. https://www.samaritans.org/
In summary, all of us at a given time in our lives are affected by negative thoughts and some of us at times may have thoughts where we may want to harm ourself or worse. It is important as someone on the outside to recognise where a person may be acting differently and to offer support. Where you may be feeling differently or may be experiencing negative thoughts, please see a health professional for advice and support. There is stigma around men and expressing and exploring their feelings, and please, if you are a man, please talk about how you are feeling and what is on your mind.
I hope you have found the blog of some help. Remember: it’s a journey. It will take time. Have patience in the process. You will get there. Until then, stay happy, stay healthy, and have a lovely weekend wherever you are on the planet.
And remember: love yourself.
Cambule, L. (2014). “Man up”? Getting more “men” in mental health. Available: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/your-stories/man-up-getting-more-men-in-mental-health/#.WmKLYNIS-ig. Last accessed 9th October 2019.
Counselling Directory. (2018). Key statistics about men and mental health. Available: http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/men-and-mental-health-stats.html. Last accessed 9th October 2019.
Mental Health Foundation. (2019). World Mental Health Day. Available: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/world-mental-health-day. Last accessed 9th October 2019.
The Samaritans. (2012). Men, Suicide and Society. . Available: http://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/files/Men%20and%20Suicide%20Research%20Report%20210912.pdf. Last accessed 9th October 2019.
A bit about the author:
I am a guy who is (nearly) 40, who is sharing a journey of weight management and wellbeing.I am also a mental health professional with a wealth of years of experience in supporting individuals who have challenging mental illnesses and personality disorders.
Prior to my current professional role, I spent several years supporting members of the community as a fitness professional, assisting individuals with weight loss and health improvement programmes.
I completed a PGDip in Mental Health Nursing in 2013, and an MSc in Advanced Practice in 2016 in which I looked at improving nurses’ level of engagement with patients with challenging personality disorders.
In 2018 I successfully undertook a Clinical reasoning in Physical Assessments course with the view to start studying toward becoming an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in late 2019.
In 2015 I also undertook a Mentorship for practice (BSc Hons) course and have been supporting future nurses with their training and development. I have also recently supported a Healthcare Assistant Staff toward training in and successfully passing and achieving a Foundation Degree in Mental Health Nursing.
In my current role I am a person looking to support the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the individual. As part of my role within the health services in supporting individuals with mental health care needs, I am also currently looking to develop myself as a Wellness Coach, to support the individual with weekly wellness blogs, with the view to support individuals on a 1:1 basis as well as holding motivational lectures and seminars.