I moustache you a question but I won’t shave it for later…
The following article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, see a GP or mental health professional. To speak with someone immediately, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If life is in danger, call 000 or go directly to emergency services.
This is the last in a series of articles about Movember and men’s health with the topic being mental health and suicide prevention.
In 2018, preliminary data showed a total of 3,046 deaths by suicide (ABS 2018), most of them male. Many more attempted.
Suicide is a complex public health issue and assumptions about why it happens are unhelpful but here is what you can do to start the conversation.
What you can do for a bro
Hint: Don’t ask “how are you?” because it is likely to trigger an automatic response such as “good” or “fine.”
Start by mentioning anything different you’ve noticed. Maybe he’s spending more time at the bar, coming into work late, or missing social events.
Instead, ask something like “You’ve not quite seemed yourself recently. What’s been happening?”
Try to give him your full attention, without interruptions. Don’t feel you have to diagnose problems, offer solutions or give advice. Just let him know you’re all ears, judgement-free.
Follow-up questions are good too. They’ll help let him know you’re listening:
“That can’t be easy. How long have you felt that way?”
- ENCOURAGE ACTION
Help him to focus on simple things that might improve his wellbeing: Is he getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating properly? Maybe there’s something that’s helped before?
Suggest he tells other people he trusts how he’s feeling. This will make things easier – for both of you. And if he’s felt low for more than two weeks, suggest he sees his doctor.
Suggest you catch up soon– in person if you can. If you can’t manage a meet-up, make time for a call, or drop him a message. Ask if you can help with anything. This will show you care. Plus, you’ll get a feel for whether he’s feeling any better.
If you’re worried that somebody’s life is in immediate danger, go directly to emergency services.
What you can do for yourself
Self-care is important to maintaining positive mental health and wellbeing. Here are five things that you can do to stay mentally healthy. If you’ve tried some of these things and still feel bad then talk to a professional for advice and support.
- Keep your body moving with physical exercise and practice mindfulness techniques such as relaxation, meditation or positive self-talk.
- Do something you enjoy. It’s even better if you can do it in a group.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. (If unsure consult a health professional)
- Sleep. 7-8 hours is ideal. If you feel that you need it, take a break or a short nap during the day.
- Talk to someone you trust, especially when things are tough.
From my experience, it is difficult to open up but it feels so much better when you do. Healing starts when you admit something is wrong and ask for help.
To help stop men dying too young, you can donate here or share this post with a man in your life to spread awareness.