Men are known for bottling things up. But when you’re feeling down, taking action to call in extra support is the responsible thing to do.
Trying to go it alone when you’re feeling down increases the risk of depression or anxiety going unrecognised and untreated. Depression is a high risk factor for suicide, and plays a contributing role to the big difference in suicide rates for men and women.
Blokes make up an average six out of every eight suicides every single day in Australia. The number of men who die by suicide in Australia every year is nearly double the national road toll.
Everyone’s mental health varies during their life, and can move back and forth along their own personal range between positive and healthy at one end through to severe symptoms or conditions that impact on everyday life at the other, in response to different stressors and experiences.
Effectively managing your mental health can give you significant improvements in your quality of life, increase your capacity to support your family and your mates, and let you perform at your best.
Looking out for yourself
Looking out for yourself is a bit like looking after the car. You know that a regular maintenance keeps the family wagon running well, even if it seems to generally be driving OK. And if things aren’t running smoothly, it’s time to book in a service.
However, though we’re pretty good at keeping the family wagon running, many of us aren’t as great at looking out for ourselves. In order for us to get the best out of our minds and stay healthy, we need to pay attention to doing regular activities that help us stay healthy and connected with the people around us.
There are many things you can do to help yourself stay well. A great starting point is to look after your body by staying physically active, eating healthily and getting plenty of sleep.
Other small things like going for a run, talking to a mate or a family member, getting out into the garden, or even just going for a walk outside can all be really helpful, too.
Even if you’re not feeling great, it’s important to try to keep doing the things that you usually enjoy, though you might not be enjoying them as much as usual. If you keep active and persist with them, you should eventually start to enjoy them a bit more and start to feel better.
Loneliness is a big one for many men. Men experience loneliness more than women, and it’s not just blokes living alone who get lonely.
Many men feel the pressure to work hard to provide for their family, and don’t get as much time to catch up with their mates as they used to.
However, having time with our mates is critical to our wellbeing. Spending time talking with your mates in person is best, even if it’s just a quick check-in, a coffee, or a quiet beer. If it’s hard to meet up with your mates, even texting a mate to say g’day can help make you, and them, feel more connected.
One way to stay in touch is to join a local group – whether it’s a footy team, a community group, or a weekly run or swim club, you’ll find meeting new people and having a yarn will help you feel more connected to the community around you.
Another way you can feel more connected is by checking in with your mates or by offering to support a mate who’s going through a rough patch.
Having the conversation
If you’re going through a tough time and have depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts, talking about how you’re feeling can be hard. But keeping silent could make it seem even worse. You don’t have to go through this alone. Support from friends, family or a health professional can help with your recovery.
If you’re worried about someone and avoiding starting a conversation with them about your concerns, simply letting them know you care can make a big difference.
With the advice of people who are familiar with depression and anxiety, beyondblue has developed information that can help people have a conversation that might be difficult.
Visit the Beyond Blue website.