We Need to Talk About Men's Mental Health

Depressed man

I have read with sadness this week about Ant McPartlin's admission of addiction to drugs and alcohol. On the one hand, the support he appears to be receiving from his colleagues, employers and the public is fantastic, however what concerns me is the fact that with all the support around him, he got to the point where he needs in-patient treatment for addiction which he cites depression as the cause.
 
Depression is a mental illness that affects both men and women of all ages from all backgrounds. In the past few years I have been involved in numerous campaigns to raise awareness of mental health issues, to get a conversation going about depression, anxiety, OCD to name but a few. I attended Prime Minister’s Question Time at The House of Commons when May and Corbyn debated the issue, so why oh why is someone with so much support around them still needing in-patient rehabilitation that could have been avoided. 

From what I see, this remains a complex issue.  On the political front, although there is lots of talk about mental health, there is little action.

In Hertfordshire, my home county, NHS waiting lists remain long; support offered is rarely enough in terms of the amount of sessions, or the flexibility for those in work to attend easily. On a social front, despite media campaigns, there remains much shame around mental health and this prevents people from asking for help.

I run a robust counselling service and what we see is that the majority of our clients are women. Now you could argue that’s due to our marketing strategy but I would dispute that and state that it’s because women talk. Women generally talk to one another and women are more likely to seek help sooner than men as well.
 
The male clients I see on the whole are much further along the road of depression than the female clients and need longer term therapy.  Why is this? Well for the most part men tend not to talk about their emotions until they have no choice and they spill out of them.

Greyson Perry talks openly about men’s mental health and the effect of what society determine as masculinity. The stiff upper lip that men are supposed to show leaves men emotionally illiterate and this in turn leaves them unable to forge relationships which enable them to talk about how they feel.

Men are therefore left fragile and vulnerable with no skills to deal with their feelings in an effective, positive way. Therefore, we see men fighting, starting wars, using drugs, alcohol, porn, gambling to let of steam and manage their emotions. All these so called coping mechanisms have negative consequences and we see men stuck in a cycle of self-sabotage which is detrimental to the mental health. To read more about this click here for a link to Greyson Perry’s latest book, The Descent of Men.
 
So what are we to do about this? I’ve said this before, and I make no apology for saying it again, we need to talk about our feelings!
 
We need to form a society where it’s OK to ask for help when we feel uncomfortable or in pain emotionally as well as psychically.
 
We need to educate ourselves on the signs of depression in ourselves and others:
 
- Difficultly sleeping or sleeping all the time
- Over eating, not eating at all
- Unable to sit still/stop
- Unable to get going at all
- Changes in habits
- Mood swings
- Drastic weight loss or weight gain
 
All these are classic signs that someone is struggling with their mental health. They might lock themselves away from those closest to them, distance themselves from relationships. These are methods of protection, but sabotage the possibility of help at the same time. 

If someone you care about is showing changes in behaviour that are concerning you, talk to them about what you have noticed. They may well push you away, but keep talking, keep noticing. Don’t ask them if they are OK, the likelihood is that they will say yes. Tell them you see, tell them you notice what’s going on and that you are there when they are ready. If you are concerned they might harm themselves you can speak with your GP, or mental health team and get advice. You may also find that seeing a counsellor yourself can be helpful as you get to talk about the effect in you and that allows you to support them better. 
 
If you are concerned about your mental health then TALK. I totally appreciate it’s difficult (I’ve been there myself and worked with hundreds of people who have been in a similar situation).

But even though it’s hard, even though you may not know or understand exactly what’s going on, TALK!

Keep a diary of what’s going on can also help you understand and give you a tool to talk about. 

For more information please call/text Rebecca on 07969 315591 or email contact@hertfordshiretherapy.org

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My Introduction to Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

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As a Psychotherapist I am no stranger to personal therapy. I have had all sorts over the years - person centred counselling, transactional analysis, hypnotherapy, NLP, Psychodynamic counselling, energy healing, kineseology and I have even done some play and drama therapy too.

Recently I have been reading a lot about EFT and so when Anna Lambert approached me and asked if I would like to have a session with her I thought, why not? 

So this morning I completed my usual routine, put on my make up and came into work early to meet with Anna who explained to me the history of EFT. We got down to it pretty quickly as neither of us like to beat about the bush.

Well an hour later I regretted putting on mascara that's for sure! Ill admit I have been going through a bit of a rough time personally lately and that why Anna had offered me the session, but I was no where near prepared for the depth of this therapy that I just thought was a bit of tapping and affirmations. I can tell you now that although I still have no clue how EFT works, it did for me this morning. 

I asked Anna to tell me a bit more about EFT and she explained that it is a combination of talking therapy and acupuncture, in that the therapist encourages the client to tap on specific acupuncture points whilst talking. My experience is that Anna listened to what I had to say and then encouraged me to tap on the points whilst reciting the sentences she said.

Something about being heard, accepting the negative thoughts on the one hand and then letting them go resonated with me. The basic phase stuck in my head now is "Even though I am not perfect, I totally love and accept myself". It gave me permission to be who I am and to love myself for that ,warts and all, and that's powerful stuff in my book as none of us is perfect!!

There does seem to be a lot of negative views of EFT. When I searched Wikipedia it is described as having no benefits other than those of the placebo effect. Before I experienced it myself I maybe would have agreed on some level. However I was so blown away by my session today that I have booked another and asked Anna to do some work with Butterflies Community, our peer support group for pre and post natal mums. 

I asked Anna for links she could recommend to read more about the technique. She advised me to look at Gary Craig so here's a YouTube link for you to get an idea of what I'm talking about:

For more information about EFT, or to book a session with Anna you can contact her on 07855 249732

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