Caring for men’s mental health in the time of COVID-19
While Australia and the world increasingly shuts down to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever people are asking how they can maintain physical and mental well-being in the face of prolonged isolation, particularly those living in small spaces and/or less connected to a community.
As one middle aged bloke who lives on his own told AMHF, “I’m going to go nuts staying at home alone.”
Organisations like Beyond Blue have published tips for looking after mental health during the coronavirus outbreak on their websites in bold, digital ink.
Their advice includes maintaining perspective, limiting media intake if you find it upsetting, accessing quality information, staying calm and following official advice, and managing mental health while in self-isolation or quarantine.
“Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, video conferencing or telephone,” says Beyond Blue.
“Establish routines as best possible and try to view this period as a new experience that can bring health benefits.”
R U OK? – reminds people that "staying connected is more important than ever".
“Research tells us that people, particularly men, are more likely to talk to family and friends when something is troubling them. We encourage you to use this time to pick up the phone, video call, SMS or post online to check in and see how those in your world are travelling. If you’re feeling well and able to support someone, reach out and let them know you’re there to help now and for as long as it takes,” says the organisation.
Worldwide, people are using technology to continue services that are critical to the mental wellbeing of members.
Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups cannot meet face-to-face, but some meetings are continuing online. While therapists have also had to cut out physical meetings, others are connecting through text messages, email, video and of course, the phone.
The Australian Men’s Shed Association has urged its constituency to take all precautionary measures to minimise the spread of the virus, acknowledging that older men are in the most vulnerable age group.
"We know that the shed is an important part of the week for many of your members, but the health and wellbeing of our community is priority. Try to connect with isolated members in other ways – via a phone call, online or drop over any supplies if they may be running short,” AMSA says in a list of recommendations on its website.
AMSA has postponed all events and will not be hosting or attending any regional events or meetings until further notice.
They urge organisers of individual shed events to proceed with extreme caution and remind guests that shed members are one of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Parents Beyond Breakup has established a ‘virtual verandah’ for struggling mums and dads impacted by separation as well as the new challenges presented by COVID-19. Included in the service is a discussion forum and 24/7 live chat.
Mr Perfect is taking its popular BBQ meet-ups online.
“When your main 'product' or service gets wiped out due to a virus pandemic, it can be a little unnerving,” says Mr Perfect.
“With our Mr. Perfect BBQs across the country now on hold, we have had to get a little creative.”
The first mass nationwide Mr Perfect BBQ was announced for Sunday 29 March at 8.15pm, “providing a chance for us to chat over video and for others just to be there and watch and listen in.”
Ozhelp’s face-to-face training and support programs are also transitioning online and the Canberra-based organisation has issued a fact sheet to help people manage during times of uncertainty with some proactive strategies.
“If you are quarantined or need to practice self-isolation it is important to remember that this is a temporary measure. You may also like to remind yourself of the part you are playing in keeping others safe. Do what you can to stay informed, stay well and stay connected,” they advise.
Menslink has had to cancel its events, but is supporting its community and adapting to how it runs programs by creating more video material and using webcams to continuing counselling. See more
Do you have an online event planned to assist men with social connection in the coming months? Please email [email protected] and we'll help spread the word.
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Read: National Men’s Health Gathering 2020 (AMHF)
Read: Coronavirus gender health gap needs further investigation say scientists (AMHF)
Read: Men’s health initiatives scale back in the face of coronavirus (AMHF)
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Read: COVID-19 Global Men's Health update (AMHF)
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