When Movember, the organization, was founded nearly 20 years ago, they sought to change the way men’s health in general, was approached. Fast forward, Movember, which takes place throughout the month of November, is now a global movement – and most probably the reason why your friend or colleague has grown out a strange looking mustache.
But, behind the voluntary facial hair, there is a growing and pressing need to bring men’s mental health to light, and create healthy conversations around it. In our part of the world, many men have been programmed from a young age, to mask their feelings and not openly show emotion. The drawback of this social pressure is that many men have learned to internalize their fears, anxieties and feelings – and could feel very alone in their struggle.
Yet, the figures speak volumes. In every country that reports suicide rates, including Lebanon, adult men are most at risk to attempt to take their own life. Adult men continue to make up the majority of suicide rates globally. However, the act of suicide is what we hear about in the news and governmental websites… not the struggle of men and their mental health that may lead them to this point.
So what can men do to ensure they are receiving the support they need?
– Firstly, know that sharing your feelings, being vulnerable, or asking for help does not make you weak. It actually makes you stronger.
Do not underestimate what you are going through or feeling. Your emotions, thoughts and feelings are valid.
– If you have a trusted friend or family member, confide in them. Perhaps they would be able to support, even if it is just to hear you out.
– Know that you are not alone in your struggle. If you just open up, you will realize that others may share similar emotions and feelings
– Seek professional support from a professional counselor or therapist, to guide you when things get a little dark
And what can we do as a society, to support men’s mental health?
As a society, we need to break the stigma around topics of mental health and suicide. Only when we start having these important conversations, can we support others more effectively and help save lives.
– If you see a male friend, family member or colleague struggling, have a conversation with them. Start with simple, non-invasive and non-threatening questions, and ask them in private. Here are a few:
- How are you really doing?
- Is everything ok?
- You seem a bit sad / stressed / angry. Is there anything on your mind that you would like to talk about?
- I’ve noticed subtle changes in your attitude. Is something bothering you? I am here if you need to talk.
– Educate yourself on the signs of risk that someone is struggling and may not be getting the support he needs
– And when it comes to companies, awareness sessions and policies that promote positive mental health should be adopted. Many Lebanese companies have already set up mental health programs, and some have even gone one-step further, and made therapy sessions mandatory for their teams.
Everyone’s story is different. Every person around you may be struggling silently. Men struggle too. Create the space for people to open up and get the support they need… before it is too late.