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Breaking the silence: men's mental health and stigma
On Sunday 19 November we recognised International Men’s Day – this year’s theme was ‘Zero Male Suicide’ which highlights the importance of helping men and boys to manage their mental health.
The traditional expectations of what it means to “be a man” have led to a culture of silence around men’s mental and emotional well-being. We have come a long way in addressing the stigma and breaking the silence however challenges still exist.
Mental health conditions are more common than people may think. 45 per cent of Australians aged 16-85 have, at some point in life experienced a mental illness and the rate of mental health disorders between men and women are fairly evenly split.
Yet, data shows that men only account for 40% of Medicare-subsidised mental health services in Australia.
As selectability’s Chief Operating Officer, Aaron Farrell, explains the expectation that men should be tough and resilient can lead to a reluctance to talk to others about struggles or seek professional help.
“The pressure to appear strong can be especially damaging as it stops men from seeking the support they need,” said Aaron
”A fear of being judged, being thought of as being weak or less of a man if they express their emotions or admit to mental health challenges is also a common barrier. .
Breaking the stigma surrounding men's mental health is crucial. We all have a role to play in supporting men to seek help if they are having challenges with their mental health.
This can be done in a variety of ways:
Have open conversations
Encourage open and honest conversations about mental health without judgment or ridicule. Educational programs, workshops, workplace discussions, and community led programs can contribute to destigmatising of mental health challenges.
Challenge gender stereotypes
Men have emotions and it is important to allow them the opportunity to express these in a safe and non-judgmental environment.
“Men need to be encouraged to express emotions and understand that this is a sign of strength, not weakness, and are encouraged to access professional mental health services when required.”
Role models in the media
When well-known public figures, such as athletes, actors ,share their personal stories about mental health challenges, it helps reduce stigma and encourages others to seek help.
Accessible mental health services
Mental health services should be easily accessible and affordable, providing a safe space for men to seek help without judgment.
“selectability’s programs and services like the Mental Health Hub, Clubhouses, BikeShed, and Well Man aim to provide regional Queenslanders with a range of support options and tailored to community needs,” said Aaron
Encourage the development of structured men’s mental health support networks both in-person and online, where men can share their experiences and receive guidance and support.
Breaking the silence surrounding men's mental health is essential for fostering a more compassionate and understanding society.
Men should be encouraged to express their emotions and seek help when needed, without fear of judgment or ridicule.
“By challenging traditional gender stereotypes and fostering open dialogue about mental health, we can provide men with the support they need to live healthier and happier lives,” said Aaron.
To find out more about the services selectability provides to support the men’s mental health in regional Queensland, please visit https://www.selectability.com.au/ or download our resources from Well Man - Improving mental, physical & social wellbeing of men
Help is available
If you or someone you care about is in immediate need of support, please contact:
- Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
- Standby - Support After Suicide 0438 648 268
selectability acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we provide services and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge those with lived experience and those who support and partner with us to improve mental wellbeing and prevent suicide across regional Queensland.