According to Australian longitudinal studies and health data, there remains a high incidence of mental health problems amongst men. As many as 1 in 4 men will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Certain psychiatric disorders, substance abuse problems and issues like loneliness are also statistically more prominent among populations of men (AIHW, 2020). Suicide and suicidality remain leading concerns that disproportionately impact men, who represent about 75% of deaths by suicide (ABS, 2020). We also know that men in certain communities, jobs or social and family situations can be at increased risk of experiencing mental health problems.
Positive actions for men to consider taking:
1. Think about what mental well-being means to you.
- What causes you stress in life?
- What do you do to combat that stress?
- What makes you happy?
- Would you say you are mentally healthy?
- What habits can you change or introduce to improve your mental health?
Doing a self-assessment of your own mental health is important – sometimes we don’t notice how ‘bad’ things have gotten until they start to cause us problems. It’s never too late to act. If your answers to these questions are positive that’s great, but there’s always room to keep working on mental health.
2. Improve your physical health for your mental health.
Understand that various physical factors can impact your mental well-being. Here are some key things to consider:
- Get some regular exercise
- Make sure you get quality sleep
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid/limit harmful substance e.g. alcohol and other drugs
- Take time to rest when you’re sick or injured
- Make the time to get a physical health check.
3. Practice things that enrich your life.
Finding enjoyment and satisfaction in life is important to our mental well-being. What that looks like is different for everyone, but some common examples include:
- Gain new skills or knowledge
- Pursue hobbies, sports and other personal interests
- Set yourself realistic but aspirational goals for things to do or achieve and start taking steps towards them
- Give back – it’s been proven that things like giving, volunteering and supporting others can also help you.
4. Practice healthy relationships.
The relationships we have with our family members, romantic and sexual partners, friends and colleagues are all important to well-being.
- Make quality time for healthy, respectful and fulfilling relationships
- Socialise with others in a way that works for you, e.g. catch up with friends, join a social group or even just call someone for a chat. Some people need lots of social interaction to be happy, others need less.
- Know your own boundaries and respect those of others. If a relationship is causing you distress take positive action. Help is available from relationship counsellors, mediators and mental health professionals.
5. Address mental health problems.
If you are feeling low, sad, distressed or overwhelmed much of the time, or if you feel like you are not coping with any aspect of your life, there is no shame or harm in seeking help.