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Let’s hear it for the boys
November is Men’s Health Awareness Month, so if you see any of your male colleagues or friends sporting a moustache they haven’t suddenly lost all sense of style; they are raising awareness of prostate cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.
It’s not always easy being a man. Yep there are some advantages of course, and most chaps are happy to take the light hearted jibes that they are likely to house their brain in their trousers, and are famously unable to multi-task. But men have feelings too, and the male brain is probably more complex than many blokes would care to admit.
For every insane murderer or rapist, for every brainless misogynist, there are legions of men who treat others as they would want to be treated themselves, are sensitive, caring and inclusive to the core. So maybe we can all put the gender wars on the back-burner for a few weeks and work together to help the 49 per cent of our population who can’t always help themselves.
Male suicide stats are horribly high
Over three-quarters of registered suicide deaths in 2020 were men, a distressing figure of 3,925; most had a mental health condition and those at the highest risk were middle aged men, who are less likely to seek help. There are a number of reasons for this, including the decline of male dominated jobs leading to a loss of male identity in society, and the man’s reluctance to talk about his feelings.
Women are suffering too, of course, and are three times more likely to attempt suicide, while men are up to four times as likely to die by their own hand. Men tend to use more violent and final methods, such as firearms, hanging and jumping, while women more often use overdose of drugs or medication.
We can all look out for the signs and, men, don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings.
Watch out for military veterans
Men, and women, who return from combat often do so with an unbearable weight of baggage on their shoulders. Some end up homeless but veterans often have specialist issues that the local authority homelessness teams are not best equipped to cope with.
Armed forces charities can help but beyond the knowledge they have, the veterans homeless problems are miles apart from homelessness as a mainstream issue. And for those still serving, some men fear that presenting with a mental health issue will damage their chances of staying in the forces, but more than 70 per cent of those who come forward are returned to full service.
Help can be found at https://www.veteransgateway.org.uk/
Male victims of domestic abuse
The Office for National Statistics figures show that one in three victims of domestic abuse are male, and one in six/seven (compared with one in four women) will suffer from domestic abuse at some time in their life. But, with a common theme emerging, fewer than five per cent of victims being supported by domestic abuse services are men as half of all men suffering are unlikely to tell anyone, compared to 19 per cent of women.
In the very worst cases, more women are killed by partners or ex partners than men, by around seven times. But while society, quite rightly, insists that sometimes women need safe spaces where men cannot tread, the sanctity of a men-only venue is not as widely available.
Suicides, veteran PTSD and domestic abuse put men’s mental health issues into sharp focus, but as with all we do, we must try to ease difficult situations wherever we see them…before they escalate.
So if you see a man over the next two weeks, and there are plenty around, try to make him smile; and if he’s looking a bit down maybe don’t tell him to ‘man up’!
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