This Movember, on International Men’s Day, we would like to open the conversation about stigma and some of the things men of all ages tend to find embarrassing, challenging or simply difficult to speak about. Today, the focus is on men’s wellbeing and how to sustain it.
This is something we only recently started to talk about. For years, many men have been brought up to believe they should not associate themselves with anything (stereo)typically feminine – that they should bury their feelings, emotions, fears. Men have been taught the world expects them to be resilient providers who never crumble in the face of adversity and hardship.
Statistics show these societal expectations have been taking their toll – three times more men than women commit suicide with men aged 40-49 having the highest suicide rates in the UK; men are far less likely to access psychological therapies than women despite the fact men report lower levels of life satisfaction than women; men are nearly three times more likely to become dependent on drugs and alcohol than women and make up the vast majority of prison population (mental health issues and self-harm are common in prisons).
Therefore, we urge our male students and colleagues to speak up and seek help if they feel their mental health is deteriorating. No issue is too big or too small for you to talk about. Here is a list of organisations (usually from men for men) that can help support you either directly or indirectly:
Prostate Cancer, Testicular Cancer and Male Fertility
On average, men go to their GP half as often as women. This may in part be the reason why 100,000 men a year die prematurely. Men may feel embarrassed in seeking help, or hope their symptoms will “just get better”.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men in the UK, with over 40,000 cases diagnosed every year. According to the most recent figures available - 12,031 men died from prostate cancer in 2017 (33 per day, over one per hour). There's no single, definitive test for prostate cancer, therefore regular GP visits are extremely important.
Testicular cancer is one of the less common cancers. It usually affects younger men between the ages of 15 and 49. Self-screening and GP consultations are important for early detection.
Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse
Last but not least, we would like to focus on the support available for men who are victims of domestic violence and/or sexual abuse. Social pressure and expectations have led to many men, regardless of their sexual orientation, choosing not to report sexual violence or domestic abuse that they may have experienced in their childhood or as adults. Such bottled up trauma often leads to mental health issues, self-harm, aggressive behaviour and/or substance abuse.
In 2018/19, 786,000 men (1.6 million women) suffered from domestic abuse, while 140,000 men were estimated to have been victims of sexual assault in 2017/18 (560,000 women).
Finally, we would like to remind our students that support and counselling is available to them through our Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Team as well as through the Big White Wall (Togetherall). Similarly, colleagues can also use the Big White Wall resources or reach out for help via the PAM Assist employee programme.