One in four people in the UK have experienced mental illness. Going through mental illness is bad enough but often, for almost two thirds of people with mental health problems, the stigma and discrimination experienced is as bad the symptoms of their condition.
Admitting you have mental health problems and seeking help may be as hard as dealing with the problem itself. People need to know and understand that mental illness is more common than people may know and that looking down on or brushing it under the carpet makes the situation worse. I will be focusing on men’s mental health, as it carries the most social stigma and men are more likely to feel uncomfortable discussing or admitting mental illness. Sometimes, you may not even know that you are experiencing mental illness, but you feel as though something is just not right.
You may be feeling more emotional, more lethargic, less sociable and you might stop wanting to do activities you usually enjoy. You may also feel agitated or find it hard to concentrate at work. This is understandably hard to deal, with people looking fine on the outside but unwell mentally.
Whatever it is, mental illness affects everyone differently, even though there may be similarities in symptoms. The stigma of mental illness can be so overwhelming that men self-medicate with illicit drugs and alcohol just to manage. This short-term solution, of course, hurts in the long run, often leading to more substance abuse to numb the body and mind, leading to more problems.
Mental illness can unfortunately lead to extreme measures just to end the mental torture. Suicide in men is three times that of women in the UK. The highest suicide rate is in men between the age of 45 to 49 and is unfortunately increasing. Reasons can range from sustained mental illness over years and years or suffering a nervous breakdown from a sudden traumatic event.
We have to remember though, that something trivial to one person can be life changing to another suffering from mental illness. It can affect men from all walks of life. From the poor to the wealthy, from the ‘average’ man to famous actors and royalty.
Even the ‘toughest’ of men, from professional fighters to soldiers are not immune. I just want to let men know that whatever you are suffering from, whether it be anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, stress or any other mental illness, there is hope, there is help. Don’t suffer alone. It may be even harder in these coronavirus times but it’s ok to talk to someone.
Maybe a family member, partner or friend. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, talk to your GP or just google ‘mental health illness help’. Things can and will get better. Thank you for your time.