Men's inability to talk about mental health issues
Men's inability to talk about issues concerning their mental health has led to an increased incidence of suicide in this group.
Reflecting on the Royal Prince's recent openness about their different life situations and their particular problems, resulting from the sad and tragic loss of their mother, many years ago, highlights the difficulties within men in asking for help when life's problems become too much. Prince Harry's reflection on life and his battle to resist opening up to anyone, until he realised he was at a point of breakdown, shows much of our culture and ways of coping - being strong and containing (or crushing) unwanted thoughts in areas not to be accessed. Eventually, there is a need to seek help when the containment areas can take no more, or the issues felt are too vast.
Prince William's willingness to talk with others at any level is encouraging the understanding that many, rather than just a few, have similarly difficult thoughts that can be aired in company, especially where groups of like-minded interest are found. The team talk brought together people from diverse backgrounds by those with a love of football. This gave a platform for those who had struggled in life to speak of their own issues, recognising that all may have struggled with such issues.
Only more recently were these vehicles available to them to reveal openly how difficulties in life had affected them. It is easy to recognise the reasons for not opening up; the stiff upper lip derived from terrible wars, as well as getting on with the acceptance of loss. Developing problems for all, rather than being encouraged to talk about the effect of this exposure safely and calmly afterwards, though understandable at the time, is not useful now in the present.
Now, with other significant pressures causing anxiety about ability, self-worth, and place in life, with the continual pressure of technology on most - of constant contact, personal and business, particularly with social media demands of answering, updating, remembering, playing, downloading, and replying on a phone, these feelings are constantly close at hand. Especially when, at the same time, we're all under pressure to show a fulfilled, happy, and exciting life. It is unsurprising that men strive to rise above the pressure and cope, not wanting to show any weakness while presenting a confident powerful exterior.
The Association of Colleges has launched a 'Mental Health and Well-being charter', leading the way in trying to ensure access to mental health support where it is most needed. This will hopefully be introduced with the backing of schools and colleges, supported by government, including essential involvement at a primary school level. Then, through education, new generations will have the opportunity to talk more about their problems, expanding this to group work for general discussion.
Encouraging young people to raise issues of concern with qualified therapists, and also being encouraged to talk about the problems in groups and with friends, is important in helping them find that most problems are normally felt. Not everybody suffers the same, but most suffer many issues that can isolate any individual through all their life stages.
With the success of the charter, the importance of mental health could be recognised as an equal with physical health, with similar resources, ensuring the complete human can express difficulties and problems freely, feeling comfortable to ask for and access therapy easily. The charter will, I hope, pave the way for the good mental health for future generations.
For men having left education, some barbershops have been opening discussions with clients to ease the problems of men's mental health and the increasing incidence of suicide. They offer a place to talk, in a calm atmosphere, with the distraction of a working barbershop. Here, others may be encouraged to join suitable group activities, hopefully seeking like-minded company, enjoying the group dynamic (of any interest) where all can discuss everyday life difficulties and have the confidence and courage to seek therapy if more difficult problems are revealed.
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