When a bloke opens up, just listen
In early November, the Movember Foundation released figures around men’s willingness to ‘open up’ about their problems. According to their research, 41% regretted sharing personal matters. Even though three quarters thought talking was an effective way to deal with problems, half said a negative experience would stop them from ever doing so again.
Now, the UK mental health awareness group Time to Change has released its research into male mental health after surveying 3000 men.
They say 39% of men were disappointed with the reaction they got when sharing topics related to their mental health and under half of respondents had had a meaningful conversation with a close mate in the past year.
Time to Change has made some suggestions for people who find themselves in a conversation with a friend, family member, work colleague or any bloke who starts to open up.
The first tip is, don’t try to fix, just be there.
"Simply providing men with the confidence to support their friends has the power to change lives, and it doesn’t need to be difficult or scary,” says Dominic Arnall, Head of Program Management at Time to Change
Tips to help mates open up include:
- Ask twice.
- Read between the lines, for example 35 percent of men in the survey said if they wanted to talk to a friend about their mental health they would ask how their friend is doing and hope they’d ask them back.
- Suggest a drink. 63 percent of men said they would be most comfortable talking about their mental health over a drink. Keep an eye out for the hint.
- Know when to end the banter. Notice the silences, know when to stop joking around. Don’t fob them off with platitudes, like ‘she’ll be right’ or ‘man up’. 42% of men said those sort of phrases shut them down.
- Don’t make it awkward. You don’t have to try and give advice, just be the good friend you’ve always been.
TAKE ACTION FOR MEN'S HEALTH
Read: 2 in 5 men have regretted opening up says Movember (AMHF)
Read: Male mental health undermined by friends desire to advise (Mental Health Today)