You would go to the dentist if you had toothache, and make an appointment with the GP if something was wrong with your physical health. It is just as important to treat your mental health in the same way – there is nothing wrong with seeking medical advice if you are struggling.
It can sometimes be tough to understand why you are feeling are certain way. Rather than ignoring any emotions that are troubling you, and hoping that they simply go away, take the time to think carefully about them and whether your need to take some steps to feel better.
Remember, mental health guidance, support and services are available to anyone who is suffering, man or woman.
How do you know when you need support?
Dr Paul McLaren from Priory Hospital Hayes Grove has outlined four key questions to ask yourself if you’re concerned about your mental health.
- Do you still get excited by positive events and occasions, for example when your favourite football team wins a match, or about a birthday, or going out with friends?
- Are you still keen on exercise and do you still get a buzz from it?
- Are you able to concentrate at work, or when reading a book or watching a film?
- Are you still able to ‘keep up’ and participate in social situations?
If you have answered ‘no’ to the questions above, this may be a sign that you are struggling with a mental health problem.
What should you do next?
Share how you feel and don’t bottle up your emotions
In the past, men have typically kept their mental health struggles to themselves, seeing it as a sign of vulnerability. While these stereotypes are gradually changing, they do somewhat still remain.
Ignoring symptoms, or keeping them quiet, can lead a person to act out, turn to substance abuse or become angry. It can even cause mental ill health to persist or worsen.
It’s important that you don’t fall into the trap of thinking that showing emotions is a sign of weakness. Opening up to people who care about you and seeking advice from medical experts can help you get access to the support you need, rather than continuing to struggle.
Get the help you need – don’t put it off
If mental health issues go untreated, they have the potential to get progressively worse, and have a greater impact on your life. It’s so important not to ignore how you feel.
The most common mental health issues are anxiety and depression which can become long-term or recurrent if left untreated. Don’t put it off or think you’ll do something about it next week, or the week after. Book a doctor’s appointment with your GP, explain how you are feeling and see what support they have available.
Men are more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs to try and mask how they’re feeling. This can cause underlying issues to worsen, and lead to further problems, which can make it even harder to ask for help.
Make time to looking after yourself. Don’t take work home, get regular exercise, maintain a good sleep schedule and eat nutritious meals. Also spend time with people you care about, as this can be uplifting and have a positive impact on how you’re feeling. Also indulge in your hobbies, whatever they may be. It is important to make time to look after yourself, and be proactive in taking care of yourself.
Self-care isn’t selfish – it’s necessary, and can help you feel better.
From one man to another…
Dr McLaren says: “We are stronger when we accept and address our weaknesses. Mental health issues are common; between one and five or one in six people will seek help for depression at some time in their lives.
“Depression isolates us and we feel that we are the only people experiencing it. When you ask, you find out that many other people have either had experience of it themselves or have close friends or family who have had similar issues.”
If you’re struggling, it’s important to remember three key points:
- Mental health does not have to be a major issue
- Mental health does not have to affect your career
- Mental health does not have to affect your relationships
The good news is that mental health problems are treatable. There are numerous services and charities that can help and support you. Going to your GP can be the first step you take to get access to them.