As we step into November, it’s not just the month of falling leaves and cozy sweaters; it’s also Movember, marking the start of Men’s Health Awareness Month.
Not only does this campaign focus on essential and often overlooked physical health conditions such as prostate and testicular cancer, it also casts a spotlight on male mental health and why breaking the stigma is so critical. When it comes to their wellbeing, many men don’t talk, don’t take action, and as a result, die too young from preventable causes.
The statistics around this topic are bleak. In the UK, one man dies by suicide every minute of every day, with males accounting for 69% of all suicides. Despite this, research suggests only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men.
So whether you’re a man or have some in your life, starting a conversation this month and beyond is important. Here are 5 practical steps men can take to support their mental health:
- Reach Out and Connect
The old saying is true, a problem shared is a problem halved. Whether it’s a partner, friend, colleague, or health professional, just speaking with someone can lift a weight off your shoulders and remind you that you’re not alone. If you don’t have somebody you feel you can open up to or want to remain anonymous, Samaritans are a free phone call away 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
2. Eat Well
A balanced diet not only fuels your body but keeps your brain running as well. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins provide essential nutrients that support both your physical and mental health. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are also a great choice as they are known to have mood-boosting properties. Try to limit alcohol, sugar, and processed food; but remember, it’s okay to indulge occasionally – moderation is key!
3. Move Your Body
Exercise is not just for a chiselled physique; it’s a natural mood enhancer. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a gym session, or dancing in your living room (no judgment here!), physical activity releases endorphins that are clinically proven to help you feel happy, sleep better and concentrate more. You don’t need to run a marathon, try making small changes like getting off the bus one stop earlier or taking a lunchtime walk to get a change of scenery.
4. Practice Mindfulness
We’re so busy all the time: phone calls, texts, DM’s, emails, Zooms, meetings – it’s easy to get lost in the chaos. It’s important to carve out some time for yourself every day and mindfulness is like a mental reset button. Even in small increments – five minutes at a time – by practicing mindfulness through meditation, journalling, or simply taking a quiet moment for yourself, it can help you manage stress and improve your overall mental wellbeing. Remember that you can’t do it all, and that’s okay.
5. Reject the “Man Up” Stigma
Although perspectives are shifting, men are still too often pressured to “man up” and “tough it out” — both physically and mentally. It’s why men go to the doctors, on average, half as often as women despite their increased risk. Learn to practice self-compassion and be a role model by showing that expressing emotions is courageous. One of the best ways to reduce the stigma around mental health for men is, again, to talk about it. Ask a mate how he’s doing today, you don’t need to grow a bad moustache to have an impact.
Male or female, we hope these tips have inspired you to prioritise your mental health this month, but as always, please consult your GP or a health professional if you are struggling with your mental health.
Here at One You we empower you to start making those small changes that improve your health and wellbeing, Join us today using https://bit.ly/OneYou-WM-RBKC
For more information on Movember, or to find support for yourself or a loved one, please visit: https://uk.movember.com/
Written by Cassandra Glaister (Mental Health Weight Management Specialist)