Having access to help-giving support services if you need them can help you stay mentally healthy. These may include helplines, support groups, a doctor or a mental health professional.
Researchers have proven that men do go and see professionals when they have physical and mental health issues. And contrary to the stereotype of the silent, ‘stoic’ male, they will open up about private matters.
A recent survey undertaken by PBB explored which organisations and entities separated dads most trusted when seeking help after breaking with a partner.
Down the lower end of the scale were child support agencies (14.3%), Family Law Judges (15.3%), Family Law Courts (15.3%) and other ‘official’ support services.
What our surveyed men said
The Australian Men’s Health Forum asked men ahead of World Mental Health Day on October 10 whether they agreed with the following statement: ‘Having access to support from health professionals, helplines and other support services if I need it, helps me stay mentally healthy.’
More than any of the other habits listed of mentally healthy men (10 all up) in the survey, this statement divided respondents most of all. Those who agreed (32%) or strongly agreed (46%) still made up the majority, but more than one in five (22%) remained neutral.
Here is a sample of their comments.
“They help in minimising pain and reduce anxiety and worry.”
“Allies in a time of need.”
“Reaching out is courageous and helpful.”
“Mainstream pathology is limited and dated. The world is changing significantly due to technology and the overload of connection we now have. The way we offer assistance needs to be complemented by what works, not a text book.”
“One of the best things I did was get a mental health plan and talk it out with a professional.”
Checking in with a GP
Researchers from the Ten to Men Longitudinal Study on Male Health, a major national research project, found that 80% of adult men with mental health issues had contact with a GP. From here they may be referred to a specialist in the field; the Federal Government this week announced plans in its 2020 Budget forecast to double the number of Medicare-funded psychology sessions for all Australians regardless of location for an initial two-year period.
As Head to Health points out, anyone can experience mental health issues at any time. They are both universal and individual. s
“These are stressful times, and some of the things that can weigh heavily on men include work and finances, unemployment, relationship problems, illness, and drug and alcohol use,” says Head to Health.
“These can be difficult problems to solve, so it can be helpful to talk with someone about how they are impacting your life. You can talk with someone you know and trust, connect online, on the telephone, or in person with a mental health professional.”
The Head to Health website enables you to search for a professional health service based on the type of service you are looking for and other factors, such as opening hours, bulk billing availability, accessibility and parking.
Wheat and sheep farmer John Harper has been helping blokes in country Australia since 2006 through a series of Mate Helping Mate initiatives. It took John months to accept that his depression was not a weakness and that he should see a doctor, who then advised him to seek counselling.
John told his doctor that he should be "strong enough to hold a bull out to piss," but the doctor – also a personal friend as well as being a health professional - urged him to "back the bus up buddy, back it up."
Translating, this meant to reach out to his mates and let them know what was going on. So, fighting his own beliefs that a "mental" diagnosis was somehow shameful for a rugged sheep shearer, John opened up to his friends. Not long after, several blokes talked to him about their own personal struggles.
A key factor in the 10 Habits of Mentally Healthy Men is to talk to someone if you are feeling low or distressed in any way.
This might be a health professional or simply a mate.
Some support services and resources that specifically focus on men's mental health issues include: