Supporting men to be mentally healthy

11 Jun 2020
Supporting men to be mentally healthy

Many people’s lives have been disrupted due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. With Men’s Health Week approaching, it’s important to consider this may be a particularly stressful time for men, with changing restrictions, social isolation or economic concerns impacting on mental health.

Men's Health Week (15 – 21 June) is celebrated every year around the world and is an important opportunity to highlight men's health and what it means to be healthy. The theme this year is Working Together for Men’s Health.

According to Beyond Blue, on average, one in eight men will experience depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives.

Community Development Officer for Relationships Australia WA’s 4Dads program Andre Cannavo said men often believe that seeking professional help isn’t ‘manly’, and this perceived societal expectation can result in men keeping their mental health struggle to themselves.

Mr Cannavo said it is important for people to reach out or initiate a conversation with men they may notice are struggling.

“Men are less likely to come forward seeking help but are more likely to talk about their mental health if prompted by a trusted friend, colleague, doctor or partner,” Mr Cannavo said.

“Practicing a simple approach, like initiating conversation, or just asking the question ‘are you ok’, may help encourage social change. 

“Checking in on a mate may just change a life, or could even save a life.”

Mr Cannavo said the 4Dads service is continuing to offer information, education, referrals and support for fathers and male caregivers of children living in the Mandurah and Pinjarra areas during this unprecedented and difficult time.

For further advice on how to check in with someone you may be concerned about, visit our free online mental health training tool, Connect For Mental Health.

Here are some mental health tips that may be helpful to men in this current climate of uncertainty and change.

Connection

  • Connect with family – If you can’t see your family in person, try and connect with them once a day for at least 30 minutes via phone or video chat (Facetime, Whatsapp or Zoom etc.)
  • Connect with friends or colleagues – reach out to your close friends to receive and offer a listening ear in these changing times.  It can be easy to lose connection with colleagues whilst working from home or looking for employment. Pick up the phone or organise a video call to stay connected.

Self-Care

  • Healthy eating, hydration and sleep – Eating fresh healthy food, drinking enough water and getting at least 7 hours sleep are the most essential forms of self-care. In times of stress it’s easy to reach for comfort food, drink alcohol or stay up late but the ‘good feels’ don’t last long. Try preparing a healthy meal, drinking water and getting a solid night’s sleep for self-care.
  • Relaxation – once a day for at least 30 minutes find time to relax or engage with a hobby you enjoy. It can help change your thinking, and the release of endorphins, can turn negative viewpoints into positive ones. 
  • Routine – For most of us this is a time of transition and stress. One way to reduce the stress is to create a routine. It may be helpful to continue to wake up and start the day at a regular time, showering, getting dressed appropriately (especially if working from home), sitting down for dinner with the members of your household, sticking to working hours, having set breaks and going to bed at a reasonable hour. These practices give us structure and routine in our day and reduce stress.

Movement

Exercise and movement is essential for your physical and mental wellbeing and the endorphins will help keep low moods at bay.  If you have time on your hands you might choose to do a short exercise session twice or even three times a day.

  • Move outside - in a time when we may be spending more time at home, it is important we still get outside for some fresh air and to keep in touch with nature while we walk, jog or run. Ensure you get outside once a day for 30 minutes, this can have a positive effect on our mood and help us re-energise.
  • Move online – support your local gym, yoga or Pilates instructor and or sign up for an online class or video to keep moving. There are also many exercise videos available on YouTube for free.

Keep Perspective

  • Limit your exposure to the ‘news’, including social media pages. Repetitive input of the serious effects of COVID-19 or reminders of our losses can very easily bring our mood down. Consider limiting your viewing to the evening news or listening to ABC News health updates so that you are staying up to date with the facts, and your responsibilities as a citizen, without becoming saturated with some of the negative content. This will support your mental health.
  • Remember that although we don’t know how long this is going to go for, ‘This, too, shall pass’ (Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, (2005). Focus on the fact that this is temporary and try to notice your thoughts and guide them to the ‘precious present’ – meaning the focus is on today.

Seeking Help

If you are feeling low in your mood, and you can’t shake it off after several days in a row, please seek help.

If you need immediate support, contact:

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Suicide Line on 1300 651 251

Mensline on 1300 78 99 78

Relationships Australia WA continues to deliver support services for men across Western Australia during this unprecedented and difficult time. We provide support services over the telephone, video conferencing or online to clients. Please call us on 1300 364 277 to let us know how we can support you and your family.

About the 4Dads Program

The 4Dads program offers information, education, referrals and support for fathers of children up to 18 years in the Mandurah and Pinjarra areas. Join other Dads to build skills to assist your child to be positive, flexible and resilient Father.

Call 6164 0619 or email 4families.mandurah@relationshipswa.org.au to obtain more information or to register your interest.