Movember: Why Men’s Mental Health Matters
In 2003, 30 men in Australia raised money for prostate cancer research by charging $10 to grow a mustache. Movember was born, and by 2006, the movement had funding to focus on men's health, including mental health. Awareness of men's mental health has increased, but there are still barriers to talking about it.
Why talk about men’s mental health?
Here’s why men’s mental health is so important to talk about:
- Around the world, 1 man dies by suicide every minute (https://ca.movember.com/about/mental-health)
- In Canada, 4 out of 5 suicides are male (https://toronto.cmha.ca/mens-mental-health/)
- In medical research, men’s mental health is low priority
- Men are more likely to feel embarrassed or have stigma towards mental health issues
- Men are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs and engage in reckless behaviour to cope with problems.
When we are open and honest about our problems, it can reduce those things and may set an example for others. If we don’t talk about what we’re going through, the stigma, the shame, and the fear may continue.
Recognizing the signs of mental health struggles
Be aware of these signs and symptoms that you might be struggling with something.
- Sudden changes in your body that aren’t related to a known illness or condition: increased aches and pains, stomach issues, headaches, blurred vision, tiredness no matter how much sleep you get, increase or decrease in weight.
- Sudden changes in mood: you get angry faster or more strongly, you are more irritable, you get less enjoyment from hobbies.
- Sudden changes in habits: difficulty sleeping or difficulty waking, eating much more or less, increased drug or alcohol use, increased risky behaviour (speeding, recklessness, etc.).
- Feelings of guilt or being worthless
- An increase of thoughts of death and dying, or thoughts of suicide
If you are worried about asking for help, think about why and work to change your perspective.
- Suffering in silence is not strength; it takes courage to ask for help when you’re scared, embarrassed, or worried.
- Doing the same things and hoping it will change is not logical; sometimes you have to try something different to get the change you want.
- Avoiding discomfort is not the same as being happy; you deserve happiness, and sometimes being happy means facing things you are uncomfortable with.
- Drugs and alcohol provide temporary relief but are not long-term solutions; it’s okay to seek relief, but don’t let it be the only thing you rely on.
- Isolating yourself doesn’t help your loved ones; you are not a burden, change is easier with the support and care of loved ones.
Asking for help is hard, but not asking for help means nothing changes. Change can be uncomfortable, difficult, even painful. It can also be freeing, transforming, and relieving.
- Counselling at The Family Centre
- Canadian Men’s Health Foundation
- Heads Up Guys
- Don’t Change Much
- Fathers Mental Health
- Man Therapy
Mark Frederick, MC, CCC
Mental Health Therapist