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"There’s no question about it: young men are struggling with their mental health. Globally, it’s estimated that a man dies by suicide every minute."
"There’s no question about it: young men are struggling with their mental health. Globally, it’s estimated that a man dies by suicide every minute."

"There’s no question about it: young men are struggling with their mental health. Globally, it’s estimated that a man dies by suicide every minute."

Thanks to Network Rep, Noah Manuel for leading by example and ditching the stigma that's held so many men back from being their full selves. Learn more about how to support the men in your life at BeThere.org.
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Let's Talk About Men.

There’s no question about it: young men are struggling with their mental health. Globally, it’s estimated that a man dies by suicide every minute. And in Canada, the stats surrounding men’s mental health are jarring — in 2017, over 3,000 men died by suicide, more than three times the number of women.

More troubling is that, while people of all genders struggle to speak out about their mental health, men are the least likely to talk about what’s going on and seek treatment for their mental health. And that’s not really surprising when you think about it: our culture often teaches men that there is strength in suppressing emotion, staying silent, and suffering through tough times alone.  And while men dealing with transphobia, homophobia, racism and ableism face specific challenges with their mental health, the overarching trend is that men opening up about what they are going through is taboo. 

But I see that changing. Over the last week, I’ve seen the Bell Let’s Talk campaign spark honest conversations about mental health between men. Messages of support and solidarity seem simple enough, but that’s where a big shift can take place — where men realize they can look to their friends and talk about what they’re going through, when they realize they’re not alone. 

Having struggled with my own mental health over the years, I know those messages make all the difference. Having support from friends and family has gotten me through some very difficult challenges. Being able to talk to them about issues I was facing helped me look inward and acknowledge what types of resources I needed to access. But it wasn’t easy for me to start having those conversations. There was a great deal of pressure placed on me by both myself and others to mask any traits that could be perceived as “weak.” I think that this is what many men end up struggling with. I think because of how many of us are raised — to be “strong” and “stable” — we often fear being judged for being vulnerable or irrational, and that fear can stop us from admitting to ourselves that we’re struggling with our mental health, even though it’s completely natural and universal.

In my time working as a mental health advocate with Jack.org, I’ve come to realize that there are many men who will present a tough exterior even while they’re experiencing a serious mental health struggle. And because many men tend to spend time with one another by doing things like gaming, going to the gym, playing sports, or having drinks at a bar —places where emotional vulnerability isn’t typical—it can be difficult to open up and find that safe space to talk. But I think that’s where there’s an opportunity to get those conversations started.

I've noticed that simply showing that you’re somebody who will listen in a non-judgmental way will lead to honest, in-depth conversations. In fact, the reason I began taking care of my mental health was because one of my close friends noticed I wasn’t behaving the way I normally would and could tell I was struggling. Hearing things like “hey, I noticed you weren’t in class, what happened?” or “your energy seems to be different today, is anything going on?” was the first step in getting me to open up about my mental health, and with my friend’s guidance, I was finally able to see that I needed some extra help.

It’s important to remember that not everyone will want to talk right away. They might say everything is fine, that they’re upset but don’t want to talk about it, or that they’re too busy to talk. But in my experience, reaching out is not always about getting someone to open right then—what’s important is that you show you’re there for someone if they ever need to talk. Often enough, they’ll remember the conversation down the road and know they can turn to you when they’re ready.

Taking care of each other’s mental health might look like small conversations over a long period of time, not an intense heart-to-heart where you cover everything at once. Be patient and remember that mental health is a long-term project. At the end of the day, establishing that you’re there if they need and that you won’t judge them is what’s important. And it’s what we need more men to start doing.

We need to make sure to build meaningful support systems –by checking in with friends, hearing each other out, and giving ourselves space to be honest about how we feel. I know the difference it made for me. Look around at the men in your lives and make an effort to check in with them. It’s not easy, but we need to get used to the idea that talking saves lives. Boys do cry and I think we need to all start embracing it. If you don't know how to navigate these conversations—because yes, they’re hard— check out BeThere.org’s “Five Golden Rules”; Say What You See, Show You Care, Hear Them Out, Know Your Role, and Connect to Help.

Be There

It’s an especially important time to look out for each other. BeThere.org can help you support anyone through a mental health struggle. We’re in this together.
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