Article by Steve Heath, MHIB Director & Founder
My name is Steve Heath, director and co-owner of Mental Health in business and I am delighted to be writing more about my own personal journey with mental health. Here are my thoughts and reflections on Men’s Mental Health during November 2021 (Men’s Mental Health Month).
A number of recent studies have clearly shown that men’s mental health is in crisis. There is robust evidence that men have high rates of various mental health conditions- and elevated rates of suicide and alcohol and substance misuse.
On average, one man dies by suicide every minute, according to men's health charity, Movember.
Male suicide rates are three times higher than those of women, in the UK - even though women are much more likely to be diagnosed with a common mental health disorder like depression or anxiety.
Year on year, the Samaritans report that men aged 45-49 are the most at risk.
There's no denying the facts: men's mental health is in crisis. However, there is now more awareness around men’s mental health than ever but so much more needs to happen to normalise the conversation. That’s why it is important that we keep this conversation going – and not just during men’s mental health month.
Men’s mental health should matter to each and every one of us – having healthy, mentally strong, resilient and happy men in our lives has a huge positive impact at home, at work and in the wider community.
Mental health problems can and do affect anyone but often, for men, the fear of stigma can make them apprehensive about opening up and asking for help. Ridicule, fear of rejection, guilt, shame and fears around medication or being locked up are just some of the reasons men are reluctant to speak up and seek professional help.
As a man who has struggled with mental health issues much of my life, I know only too well how difficult and painful it is to be silently battling with symptoms of mental ill-health on my own. For me, the voice in my head was a huge contributing factor - a relentless barrage of ‘i’m not good enough, I can’t do this, they are better off without me’ accompanied by feelings of dread and like ‘something bad is going to happen’ - prevented me from living a happy life. All of that literally sucked the life out of me and I would regularly feel intense shame and guilt for not being able to ‘show up’ fully for my partner, my children and my work. At times I coped by masking symptoms with alcohol and other substances, but that only gave temporary relief and in the end, made things much worse.
I now know, from my own experience, that finally feeling able to ask for help – and finding that help was available, and that the people that mattered most to me - my partner, family and friends were understanding and supportive was a huge relief and a key factor in my own recovery.
The pandemic has had an enormous impact on people's emotional wellbeing and mental health – and this has meant that the topic of mental health has come out of the shadows.
We are finally having those open conversations about our mental health that have been needed for so long. Men's mental health is no longer taboo – let’s keep that conversation going so that all men are given the space- to be honest, open up and seek the professional help and support they need. I believe that the more men that do speak up and seek help, the more lives will be saved - making the world a better place for all of us.
Top tip: One thing that really helps me is having a morning routine. I find that getting up early, reading something positive and motivational, meditating for 10-15 mins followed by a cold shower gives me a boost of endorphins which sets me up for the rest of the day.
Do you have a routine or morning ritual that you follow which sets you up for the day? If so I would love to hear about yours in the comments below.