In Australia, one in eight men are likely to experience depression in their lifetime and one in five men are likely to experience anxiety in a 12 month period. On this very day, seven Australians will take their own lives and five of them will be men. It’s a substantiated fact that many suicides occur as a result of unresolved mental health issues or treatable mental trauma.
The social norms of masculinity play an important role in the gender differences of suicide. Men have a greater tendency not to recognise or respond to their own negative emotions or distress, which in turn may directly result in clinical depression. This is partly due to the perceived stigma associated with ‘mental health’.
For too many men, depression and anxiety has been associated with weakness, and that is synonymous with failure. The implication of seeing anxiety and depression as a weakness is that help-seeking can be seen as a failure to ‘handle the problem’.
Without understanding the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, many men are unlikely to know when crisis point is reached.
Through tackling the rate of depression and anxiety in men, reducing stigma, facilitating a change in men’s help-seeking behaviour and challenging perceptions of masculinity, it is believed that a reduction in the male suicide rate can be achieved.
Beyondblue commissioned a significant study into understanding what stops men identifying and dealing with mental health issues. The Hall and Partners/Open Mind Men’s Help Seeking Behaviour Report identified eight approaches to reaching men:
- Take the mental health language out of the communication
- Show male role models of hope and recovery
- Connect physical symptoms with emotional issues
- Meet men where they are, through humour, targeted media (sport), use of the internet
- Promote opportunities for community connection
- Coach men and the people around them on what to look for and what to do
- Provide men the opportunity to self-assess and take action
Importantly, the research found that re-framing the effeminate term ‘getting help’ to a more positive and actioned-based one of ‘taking action’ is key in changing mindset and encouraging men taking charge of their mental health.
For more information or if you or someone you know needs support visit: Beyondblue or phone 1300 22 4636.