Today it was announced that the UK is set to open it’s first mental health centre that is strictly for men. It’s pretty big news, not only because it allows more people to get the vital support they need, but also as it’s a pretty big step toward breaking down another barrier within the discourse of mental health and mental illness.
Fortunately the discussion of mental health and mental illness is becoming more frequent, more honest and more open. As a blogger myself I often notice that the majority of those whom interact with my blog are female. I don’t know if that’s because I share content that’s predominantly aimed toward females, or if that’s because men aren’t as active in sharing and discussing mental health. Now, and I want to make this very clear, I don’t want to discriminate against genders at all. I have readers who are male and who frequently comment, ask questions etc. But, it is also widely accepted and argued that men are less likely to speak up or seek support for mental health discrimination.
I understand – I do, there’s a lot of stereo-typical content out there that places males as the stronger, heroic gender. Masculinity, male stuff, men things, sports, cars and all that jazz. Fair enough, this is a tale as old as time – the media, television shows, films and more like to portray men as the dominant gender, the ones who have more control etc. etc.
But, mental health doesn’t discriminate. We all have mental health. Just like we can all break our wrists or our fingernails… we can all suffer from mental illness. And I think it is so so important to express the fact that being mentally ill doesn’t make you weak, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a human, and it’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of.
I do wonder if it’s often forgotten or a simply disregarded fact that men also struggle with mental illness. Maybe it’s this outdated kind of attitude that men are indestructible that prevents individuals from getting the support they need? Or maybe I’m just putting words into your mouth. I don’t know, I honestly don’t – I only blog about my own experiences, but what I can say is that I have been contacted by so many incredibly websites and blogs which target the topic of men’s mental health. (It’s getting confusing writing men and mental health over and over because MENtal health has men in it haha).
Websites such as MEN HEAL have worked tirelessly to break down the stigma of mental health. Supporting men with mental health issues, and it’s recently been announced that they have ‘closed due to lack of support’ – this is such a shame, as this website really was doing something groundbreaking. And hopefully due to the recently announced mental health centre for men more people will campaign to demonstrate that mental health can in fact affect anyone.
I’m certainly no expert on this topic, but it is one that I feel very strongly about. I have several male friends who struggle with depression – friends who I am very close to but they only told me of their mental health issues after I’d began to become so open about my own. It seems being open and sharing my experiences has helped those closest to me – I can only imagine how beneficial it would be if more men started to share their experiences of mental health!
Alex Eaton of the Eaton Foundation has started a hashtag… Because #MenNeedToTalkToo, get involved with the discussion, and share your own opinions, experiences and more.