Making a positive impact during men’s mental health month
November is men’s mental health month, a month where every man in the UK is encouraged to think about mental health and the pressures associated with it.
In this article, we take a closer look at men’s mental health, including the impact money can have on mental health, the reason there’s a focus on men’s mental health specifically, and things you can do to take part in the campaign.
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What is men’s mental health month?
Men’s mental health month is a campaign which is run by the Mental Health Foundation. Every year, for the entire month of November, the Mental Health Foundation places a focus on men’s mental health.
The Mental Health Foundation was inspired to create the campaign after seeing the excellent work that Movember – another men’s mental health organisation – takes part in every November, focusing on men’s mental health and suicide prevention.
Throughout men’s mental health month, there are several schemes and initiatives people can take part in. The ultimate goal is to raise money, raise awareness, and get people – especially men – talking about mental health and the impact it can have.
Why the focus on men’s mental health?
Although mental health is an important issue for everyone, men’s mental health has come into particularly sharp focus in recent years.
The need for that extra attention is borne out in some troubling statistics. Men are twice as likely as women to die from suicide, and suicide is now the single biggest killer of men up to the age of 45 – more dangerous than cancer, violence, road accidents, or any other premature death.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why there’s such a disparity in suicide rates between men and women. The reasons for suicide are many and varied, so it’s too simplistic to say that women are more likely to share their problems. It is true, however, that men are less likely to seek help for mental health issues.
In a culture where men are often taught not to show signs of ‘weakness’, many men don’t feel capable of reaching out for help when they’re feeling low. A big part of men’s mental health month is educating people about the dangers of this attitude, and teaching men how to start a conversation about how they’re feeling.
What impact does money have on men’s mental health?
There is a close relationship between money and mental health. The two often go hand in hand, and can work together to form a vicious cycle.
If you’re struggling with your finances, you’re likely to worry about making ends meet, and that stress and anxiety can impact your mental health. On the other hand, if you’re struggling with poor mental health, it’s likely to impact the quality of your work, which can lead you to financial insecurity.
In the age of social media, we’re also conditioned to judge ourselves against other people. There is huge pressure to ‘appear’ happy and successful. When so many people get their sense of self-worth from what they do, losing a job or not feeling ‘successful’ enough can cause huge amounts of stress and anxiety.
The statistics bear this out. Studies show that when there’s an economic downturn leading to job losses, there tends to be an increase in suicides, although these results often don’t become apparent until 18-24 months after the downturn.
Why men’s mental health is even more important right now
While we should always strive to ensure mental health is a part of the conversation, the focus on men’s mental health is arguably more important than ever right now.
The coronavirus pandemic has been tough on everyone. With lockdowns and tiered systems taking effect all across the UK, people have been isolated from the people they love most, and unable to do the things that would normally make life a little easier.
The response to the pandemic has also had a huge economic impact. Local lockdowns and coronavirus restrictions have hit industry hard, especially the hospitality and tourism sectors. Although a certain level of Government support has been made available, many people are earning 80% of their usual wage – if they’re earning anything at all.
In our recent Covid-19 Debt Insight Report, we discovered the toll that the pandemic and the subsequent economic fallout is having on people’s mental health. In our YouGov survey, more than a quarter (25.27%) of respondents said they had lost sleep over their financial situation since March 2020.
Given the pandemic is showing no signs of shifting any time soon, it’s crucial that we find a way to continue connecting with the people we love, and take positive steps to lessen the impact the pandemic is having on mental health in the UK. Men’s mental health month is a good place to start.
Positive actions you can take during men’s mental health month
Now that it’s November, you might be wondering what you can do to get involved in men’s mental health month. Below are a few ways you can make a difference.
Movember is a campaign and a movement to prevent men from dying too young, whether that’s from suicide and poor mental health, or prostate cancer and other illnesses.
Since 2003, Movember has encouraged men to grow their facial hair throughout the month of November. The idea is to raise awareness and sponsorship money for men’s mental health – and all you need to do to get involved is lose your razor.
Find out more about Movember.
Curry and Chaat
The Mental Health Foundation recently launched Curry & Chaat as a way for people to get together with friends, enjoy good food and conversation, and raise money and awareness for the foundation.
Given that 2020 has been a bit different for everyone, this year’s Curry & Chaat is too, with people being encouraged to respect social distancing when meeting people in person, or to do Curry & Chaat entirely virtually.
Find out more about Curry & Chaat.
Reaching out to a friend
You don’t need to get involved with a formal campaign to help out during men’s mental health month. The entire point of the movement is to get men talking more about mental health, and that starts closer to home.
The single most important thing you can do during men’s mental health month is simply reach out to your friends to check in and make sure they’re OK.
If you’re not sure how to go about this, Movember has a useful tool called Conversations. It will take you through the different things that might come up in conversations with your friends about mental health, and some helpful ways for you to respond to the different scenarios.
Find out more about the Movember Conversations tool.