We’ve obviously had to adapt the way we work because of the pandemic and now a lot of our support is provided through Facebook messenger and virtual meetings. Since lockdown began in March, we’ve received thousands of messages every month from people all over the UK seeking mental health support and looking for advice on how they can help their partner/child/sibling/parent/friend.
Whilst mental health doesn’t discriminate, there is still a particular stigma surrounding men’s mental health, and the fact that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45, just can’t be ignored.
According to the Samaritans, four in 10 men feel they have been negatively affected by the isolation and social restrictions put in place because of coronavirus. I’ve encountered so many guys who don’t want to ask for help as they’re afraid of looking weak or stupid. That’s something we discussed at length during Petrofac’s session yesterday. I want to get the point across that the internal struggles we experience as men, are just as valid as any other. They do not make us less of a man.
What I’ve found is that many men don’t know how to ask for help, so I wanted to reiterate some of the strategies we discussed on the call:
- Being there for people isn’t always enough – we need to be consistent. If you suspect someone you know is struggling check in with them daily. Show them you’re reliable. They might not feel like opening up just yet, but if you’re consistent, they may be more likely to come to you when they are ready
- If you’re witnessing a change in someone that you don’t feel you know well enough to approach, try getting a group together and involve them, or send helpful information on mental health (and offer up your support!) to that group so that they don’t feel singled out
- Let me say this; if you are struggling, you are not alone. You are normal. You are most likely surrounded by people who can not only relate to how you’re feeling, but would want to help you if they had the chance. Talk to them, give them that chance to support you
- If you don’t feel you can talk to someone you know, use one of the many confidential resources out there. I believe Petrofac has its own ‘Employee Assistance Programme’. Alternatively, talk to the Samaritans or download the Prevent Suicide app, which highlights warning signs, coping strategies and local resources
Whoever you are, if you do one thing this Men’s Mental Health Month, please talk. Talk about this topic generally and talk more regularly about how you’re feeling. Let’s remove the stigma surrounding mental health problems and encourage more people to seek support when they really need it.
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