International Men's Day: men, boys, mental health and suicide risk
International Men's Day is today. Its focus this year is 'better health for men and boys' and the organisers are highlighting the high male suicide rate as a particular topic of concern.
The Samaritans points out that men in Britain and Ireland are between three and four times more likely to die by suicide than women.
It has been known for some time that young men are a higher risk group for suicide but The Samaritans and others are also noting that middle-aged men, particularly those in lower-income groups, are at risk.
Middle-aged men are worse at reaching out for help than other groups: they leave mental health concerns until they are in crisis. Or they feel that community services are 'not for them'.
The way men are able to talk about mental health, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts has changed hugely in the last 20 years. But there is still a stigma for some people about reaching out for help, and older guys may still feel that it is difficult or impossible to seek help.
Financial worries are often a factor for this at-risk group, with a sense that they should be a provider perhaps. Obviously the lockdown, furlough, job losses and so on are making money worries a serious concern for lots of people and may contribute to existing feelings of lack of worth or confusion about their place in society for this group.
Feeling included, feeling listened to and feeling valued are all potential positives. If you are feeling suicidal or having dark thoughts you can call Samaritans on 116 123.
The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) also does great work, and has a focus on men. You can call 0800 58 58 58 from 5pm to midnight every day.
The image of what a man has to be, the strong silent type or whatever, is changing but its roots go deep. And finding a positive image of masculinity is often not easy, when you see how much of the world's problems are caused by male rage or lack of control. But we do not have to be as others tell us to be.
If you have thoughts about maleness, masculinity, or are having a tough time in general please get in touch with me firstname.lastname@example.org or 07961 601 275 if you'd like to think about coming to therapy at www.altyerstherapy.com