Men’s Mental Health Month with Gordon from Health in Mind
During Men’s Mental Health Month we spoke to Gordon from Health in Mind to hear about how he keeps himself well.
November is Men’s Mental Health Month. It’s a good time to consider what makes it hard for men to look after their wellbeing. It’s also a good time to remind ourselves of the tools we can use to help.
Sadly, some things get in the way of men taking care of their mental health.
In many societies, men are guided from a young age to internalise hurt and avoid showing their emotions. The pesky patriarchy means that men are often taught to experience vulnerability as weak or shameful, and not seek comfort from care givers.
In his (excellent) 2016 book ‘The Descent of Man’, artist Grayson Perry talks about the representative of the ‘department of masculinity’ that every man carries within. Ever-vigilant, each thought or action has to first be checked against a template of masculinity before it can be expressed in the outside world.
This all adds up to men being discouraged from exploring their emotions, which can contribute to poor mental health.
But all is not lost. We are learning all the time, and there are lots of things we can do to improve our mental health.
A great place to start is the Five Ways to Wellbeing. These are simple tools, but they can really work:-
Connect – Researchers in 2021 found that nearly a third of men feel as though they do not have any close friends – or any friends at all. My suggestion is to set a calendar reminder for every Sunday to reach out to someone. Just a text or a DM.
Be Active – Exercise and spending time outdoors contributes hugely to wellbeing; both the endorphins for your body and the social connection. Find a walking group, or join something like Edinburgh Blue Balls, a weekly men’s mental health and cold water dipping group at Portobello.
Take Notice – Recently I’ve taken my headphones out when walking, and stopped listening to endless podcasts about the state of the world. Give yourself space to notice the world around you and allow your thoughts some room.
Keep learning – Learning a new skill can remind us of our abilities. It allows us to feel better about ourselves and nurture hope for the future. Why not try something that uses latent muscles, something you’ve never done before.
Give – Contribute to the wellbeing of someone else. Helping others creates positive feeling and a sense of reward. Offer your time to a neighbour, or buy a litter grabber and tidy up your street.
While these prompts are helpful, some mental health issues require more than self-management. A 2021 study showed only 40% of men with a mental health condition received support from appropriate services. Let’s take this month as an opportunity to open up and reach out.
Do you live and/or work in Edinburgh and want to share your own experiences of mental health and wellbeing and the different ways keep you well? If you would like us to share your story, please email email@example.com.