Do men think ‘Mental Health’ awareness is important? I can safely say that in my experience, they unanimously do.
How can I be so sure? Because I asked them! Partly out of curiosity, and partly to provide some ‘hard facts’ to form the basis of this article.
A few months ago, in one of the regular Mental Health Committee catch-ups at Client Server, the subject of ‘Men’s Health Week 2023’ came up. We discussed what we were going to do to promote it, and came up with a number of ideas, including arranging interactive talks and speakers, and organised lunchtime activities as well as content to put across our social media channels, all with the goal of raising awareness.
I have long been interested in the perception of mental health in general, but even more so, how it is perceived by men. What better opportunity to find out?
After spending time structuring an anonymous survey, I sent it out to over 100 from my network, all men, from varying ages, geographic, ethnic, and professional demographics. I was hopeful that I would get ‘some’ responses, but the reality is, I was overwhelmed by over 85% of people taking the time to complete my survey.
So, back to my original statement: Do men think ‘Mental Health Awareness’ is important? 100% answered YES. That’s pretty emphatic.
The ironic thing with that fact in mind is that 83% of them also admitted to lying about their own mental health at some point, saying that they were “ok” when the reality was, they were far from that. This may not come as a surprise, but when you see that in black and white, it still makes for pretty stark reading.
I genuinely believe that we have become much better as a nation at recognising that mental wellness and mental health are things that we need to be mindful of and work on, however, what is clear, is that the stigmas still nag away, and in many instances, men are often still too ‘proud’ to admit when they are struggling.
Only 10% believe that they have not yet experienced signs or symptoms of mental health struggles, which means that it grabs hold of the vast majority of us at some point, with 11% even admitting that they were struggling at the point of completing the survey.
There was a varied response to stress levels at home versus in the workplace, which I was expecting and imagine is fairly standard, when the mixed demographic is taken into consideration. There were two clear favourites when I asked ‘who people would speak to’ if they were struggling with their mental health, with a 'friend’ and ‘partner/spouse’ coming out on top with 41% and 34% respectively.
89% confirmed that they had a hobby or pastime that helped with their mental wellbeing, however, that somewhat concerningly means that 11% of people do not.
For me, the most telling statistic is that of the men that admitted to having struggled with their mental health at some point, only 48% felt comfortable talking about it.
So, what can we learn from this?
Despite the positive wave around mental health awareness, there are still likely to be millions of people in the world at any given point that are struggling and most won’t admit it – also, how many of the 55% that chose “I’m ok” over “I’m all good” are actually “ok”?
Be kind, be supportive and if you are struggling, it really is ok to admit it.