I watched the ITV programme Tonight regarding men and depression with interest and although it didn’t raise a lot of new facts about the situation men face when they feel they may have this debilitating illness, it did highlight certain aspects that perhaps are overlooked.
Many people who help others with mental health issues, have known for some years that men do suffer mental health problems, potentially as much as women. But the disturbing fact is that few, including the NHS, have taken time out to research the matter and find out what the true underlying problem really is. It’s true that perhaps we can only know an accurate figure if men come forward and that is something they have been reluctant to do. But when suicide rates for men in the 15-34 age bracket are so great compared to females, should alarm bells not have been ringing and the issue not just left to a charity like CALM to try and beat the drum for this blatant problem?
Yes, there is a macho feel amongst a lot of men that they should ‘man-up’, and the old adage ‘big boys don’t cry’ is still prevalent. But when the likes of the boxer Duke McKenzie can come forward along with others in the public domain, why is the issue still not getting the airing that it should?
Maybe that is for another day and the research may provide a host of answers, but the fact is 25% of men polled by the programme said they didn’t understand what depression is. Men can address this one statistic by telling as many of their mates as possible about it, just in case that information is needed. And by needed, I mean before it’s too late and the devastation caused by a suicide is heaped on another family as was seen in the programme. The message is out there about testicular cancer, so let’s move the issue on to mental health.
If you watched the programme last evening and feel you need to speak to someone, then there are plenty of places you can go to. Your GP should be your first port of call, but if you have worries about that, why not speak to someone like CALM first? It will be in confidence, they won’t need to know your name, but you can ask all the questions you want and you will get help and guidance.
One huge message that came from the programme was that thinking you may have depression does not make you less of a person, less of a man or less macho. It also stressed that depression is beatable and there are many, many people out there who can help.
Simon Howes from CALM adds, “All too often people talk about admitting to having depression but admitting to something is linked to shame. You don’t admit to a broken leg do you? It’s time to stop these subliminal messages that keep the lid on blokes talking openly about how tough life can get.”
So, do you need to speak to someone? If you do, why leave it a moment longer? As CALM often say – being silent isn’t being strong…
Visit John Sayer’s blog here: http://john-counselling.blogspot.com/