Every November is men’s mental health awareness month. Men experience disproportionately high-rates of suicide, with death by suicide being the biggest killer of men under the age of 50 in the UK. There are many reasons why men might talk less about mental health, such as societal expectations of masculinity. Each November, we tackle this stigma and encourage men to talk and so over the next few week's our weekly blog articles will focus on men's mental health, starting this week with "Real Men, Real Emotions: Conquering the Myth of the Lone Wolf".
The image of the lone wolf is a powerful one, often associated with strength, independence, and self-reliance. However, this image can also be harmful, particularly for men. The myth of the lone wolf can lead men to feel isolated and disconnected from others, and it can also discourage them from seeking help when they need it.
In this blog, we'll explore the myth of the lone wolf and how it can impact men's mental health. We'll also discuss the importance of seeking help for mental health concerns and provide some resources for men who may be struggling.
The Myth of The Lone Wolf
The myth of the lone wolf is the idea that men should be strong and independent and that they should not need to rely on others. This myth is often perpetuated in popular culture, where men are often portrayed as lone heroes who are able to solve problems on their own.
However, the reality is that no one is truly an island. We all need connections with others in order to thrive. This is especially true for men, who are almost three times more likely to die by suicide than women.
How The Myth of The Lone Wolf Can Harm Men's Mental Health
The myth of the lone wolf can harm men's mental health in several ways. First, it can make men feel isolated and disconnected from others. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
Second, the myth of the lone wolf can discourage men from seeking help when they need it. This is because men may feel that it is not "manly" to ask for help, or they may fear being judged.
Finally, the myth of the lone wolf can lead men to make unhealthy choices, such as substance abuse or violence. This is because men may feel they have no other way to cope with their problems.
Moving Away from the Lone Wolf Mentality
Transitioning from a solitary existence to a more connected and fulfilling lifestyle can be challenging. Still, it is certainly achievable with conscious effort and a willingness to open up to new experiences. Here are some practical tips to help you move away from the lone wolf mentality and embrace a more socially engaged life:
Identify Your Social Needs:
Reflect on your current social interactions and identify areas where you feel a lack of connection. Are you missing out on meaningful friendships, enriching conversations, or a sense of belonging to a community? Understanding your social needs will help you focus your efforts on expanding your social circle.
Challenge Your Beliefs:
Examine the underlying beliefs that may be contributing to your tendency to isolate yourself. Are you holding onto outdated notions of masculinity that emphasise self-reliance and independence over connection and vulnerability? Challenge these beliefs and embrace a more balanced perspective on social interaction.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone:
Overcoming social anxiety and shyness often requires stepping outside of your comfort zone. Start by engaging in small, low-risk social interactions, such as striking up conversations with people you encounter in your daily routine.
Join Groups and Activities:
Identify hobbies, interests, or causes you are passionate about and explore local groups or organisations that align with those interests. Joining a book club, volunteering for a cause you care about, or taking a class can provide opportunities to meet like-minded individuals and build genuine connections.
Engage in Meaningful Conversations:
Shift your focus from superficial conversations to deeper, more meaningful interactions. Ask thoughtful questions, actively listen to others, and share your own thoughts and experiences authentically.
Nurture Existing Relationships:
Invest time and effort in strengthening your existing relationships with friends, family, and colleagues. Make regular plans to connect, offer support, and share your experiences.
Seek Professional Help:
If you are struggling with social anxiety or have difficulty forming meaningful connections, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counsellor. They can provide guidance and support as you work through any underlying issues and develop effective social skills.
Remember, building strong social connections takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself, celebrate your progress, and don't be afraid to reach out for help when needed.
The Importance of Seeking Help
If you are a man who is struggling with your mental health, it is essential to seek help. Many resources are available to you, and you do not have to go through this alone.
Here are a few:
- MANUP? Is an organisation for men, by men who provide support and work to break the stigma surrounding men's mental health: https://www.manup.how/
- Andys Man Club has 120 support groups across the UK as well as advice available on their website: https://andysmanclub.co.uk/
- Men's Sheds are spaces for men to come together and work on practical hobbies, socialise and learn and teach new skills: https://menssheds.org.uk/
The myth of the lone wolf is harmful to men's mental health. It is important to remember that we are all social creatures and that we need connections with others in order to thrive.
If you are a man who is struggling, please know that you are not alone, and many resources are available to you.