Where does Men’s Mental Health currently stand?
It has long been the understanding that men struggle to acknowledge when mental health issues are present and are less likely to reach out for support. Now, I don’t wish this blog to be another “men should reach out for support” or “mental health challenges are part of life” type blog. Awareness has been a focal point of discussion and is certainly widely discussed. Anyone still believing that mental health challenges don’t exist in our society are kidding themselves.
What I want to speak about is the next step, and the harder one. This is the step that doesn’t score free likes on social media or paint you as “emotionally intelligent”. This part is based around acceptance, and accepting that mental health is likely going to impact us at some point. It is important to remember that moving through this will help positively form the man you become, and actually build your self-efficacy (belief in self and what you stand for). At Veretis acceptance is the second part of the 3-part change model we utilise with client (clinical and non-clinical).
The three components are:
- Awareness (bringing awareness to the issue)
- Acceptance (accepting that impact it is happening and where it will take us if we elect not to address it)
- Action (committing to positive and meaning action).
In my opinion, acceptance is the next part in addressing men’s mental health. Although, it can benefit all humans in addressing mental health. Acceptance is changing the conversation from “let’s talk” to “let me think” – an internal retrospective. This focuses on – how I am travelling in regard to my mental health? What changes can I make to better improve my mental health?
It is about recognising how ‘me’ as an individual is going to manage my exposure to triggers (situations I respond negatively), recognise my early signs (the behaviours/thoughts that indicate I am beginning to decline), and the self-care actions I need to take in order to revive my mental health.
Why does acceptance matter?
This process is critical to helping individuals (in this instance men) to prepare for the fact that mental health challenges are a part of life. However, it is important to remember they don’t need to be long term massive derailing incidents. Adequately preparing yourself and accepting responsibility for responding wisely to these situations ensures they will remain strength building events. This can help to lessen the cycle of men becoming victim to their emotions and disempowering themselves. A common misperception is that there is nothing they can do to manage these periods in their lives.
Therefore, we need to accept that mental health issues are a part of life and take responsibility for our decisions and actions when they do present. This also allows men a way of working through their problems, without necessarily having to talk.
Don’t get me wrong – Obviously, as a psychologist I am a big advocate for the power talking therapies. However, (and this is a big generalisation) men as a rule of thumb are not as comfortable talking about the subject of their mental health. So why should we push this as the only way of addressing mental health?
Beginning to focus on acceptance and the process I have outlined above changes the conversation regarding mental health. This is from “lets get men talking” and forcing men into a process they may not particularly want to engage in, into “what’s going to work for you as an individual”. The second option is an opportunity for men to devise their own plan on looking after their mental health. This is then tailored to them, actionable for them and relevant to them.