#MHAW: Men, it’s time to talk about mental health
The idea of toxic masculinity has permeated how men have viewed themselves for ages, but in 2019, major steps are being taken to change that.
Traditionally, men have been conditioned not to ask for help even when they truly need it—leading to higher rates of undiagnosed mental health issues and body dissatisfaction.
With research showing that a whopping 90 percent of men won’t seek help unless they deem their issue “serious,” it’s apparent that something has to change—and thankfully, it is.
Across the UK, multiple campaigns are championing men’s mental health this #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and showing that in this new age of masculinity, it’s alright to ask for help.
The men’s health and wellbeing guide, Manual, recently launched the Men of Manual campaign after studies found that the pressure to have the “perfect body” is mounting and negatively affecting men’s health.
Similar to recent body-posi advertising from Dove and Missguided, Manual’s awareness campaign helps to break down the idea that there is an ‘ideal’ body type for men by instead showcasing men of all abilities, sizes, heights, and skin tones.
“If you only look at the men in adverts, you would think that all men have six-packs, the perfect amount of stubble and permanently bronzed skin,” said Manual’s co-founder, George Pallis. “It is completely unrealistic and doesn’t reflect what masculinity really looks like.”
Instead, the Men of Manual campaign highlights plus-size men, discusses body dysmorphia and aims to de-stigmatise men’s mental health.
“In a world where opening up about mental and physical wellbeing is arguably more crucial than ever before, it’s vital that we all work together to de-stigmatise men’s wellness and improve the health and happiness of men everywhere,” Pallis said.
One milestone that causes major hiccups for men and their mental health, however, is becoming a new father. While the concept of postpartum depression among women has become more openly discussed in recent years, the idea of postnatal depression in fathers is still a taboo.
And yet, a whopping 55 percent of new fathers do not speak out about their own postnatal mental health struggles according to research commissioned by the babywear brand Ergobaby UK. Additionally, when new dads spoke up about how they were feeling, one in ten were told to “get a grip” instead of being offered tangible support.
“The early months of parenthood are especially hard, with anxiety, isolation and depression being increasingly common amongst new fathers,” said Al Ferguson, the founder of advice forum TheDadsNet. “However, this often goes undiagnosed due to the perceived shame of guilt felt by men.”
Despite this perceived guilt, there are many treatment options and support for men available, starting with GP’s ability to screen for depression, prescribe medication, and refer patients for talking therapies. Additionally, the PANDAS Foundation also runs a postnatal-specific hotline, online community forums, and in-person support groups for fathers with postnatal mental health concerns.
And the good news? Despite the problems new fathers faced, 96 per cent of respondents said that being a dad was “the best experience ever.”