For a lot of men, dealing with emotional situations involves a whole lot of improv. Men often pretend they're OK, even though they might not be and although it may not be the case so much anymore, for most men expressing feelings and thoughts doesn't come naturally, so most of the time many keep things bottled up.
But the sad truth is, one in eight men will experience depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives. Men make up an average of six out of every eight suicides every single day in Australia. The number of men who die by suicide in Australia every year is nearly double the national road toll.
Speaking to Lysn psychologist Gabrielle McCorry, we breakdown some of the keys signs to look out for when it comes to mental health and men.
First, what are the signs that a man in your life has a mental health disorder?
"Every human will experience times of varied emotion throughout their lives and this is completely normal," McCorry says. "Humans are intricate beings, we can feel a plethora of emotions that aren’t always happy ones. Men specifically can be quite complicated in the sense that many of them typically don’t feel comfortable openly expressing all their emotions and can have a tendency to bottle things up.
"This is definitely a generalisation as it doesn’t apply to all men, but Western cultures seem to have an influence on making men feel as though they should act ‘tough’."
McCorry adds, "Throughout our lives, some people might experience a couple of ‘bad’ days in a row or feel like they’re stuck in a bit of a slump at times. This is usually considered normal, and not necessarily a cause for concern. What can be concerning is when those bad days turn into weeks or months, and it becomes a pattern of behaviour, and the person can’t seem to shake those feelings. Below are some warning signs that the man in your life might be suffering from a mental health disorder."
LOSS OF JOY
This refers to when the man in your life has seemingly lost his lust for the things he used to find enjoyable. Perhaps he used to like having a beer with friends on a Friday night and now he doesn’t go, or he has given up his favourite pastime like sports or surfing.
FEELING ‘DOWN’ ALL THE TIME
If the man in your life seems to be down for weeks on end (over two weeks is usually cause for concern), then it might be time to try and talk to them. Everyone has their ups and downs, but this shouldn’t be an ongoing thing.
This refers to when your partner reacts to a scenario quite differently to what he normally would. For example, he could snap or being overly agitated in response to a seemingly trivial thing or get upset at a joke that wouldn’t normally offend him. Again, everyone can have bad days when this might happen, but if you notice it frequently it could be cause for concern.
ALWAYS GETTING SICK
Physical sickness can often be a sign of some other mental health concerns at play. For example, if someone is constantly stressed, this might eventuate in being run down and getting physically sick. If your partner seems to be continually getting sick, it might be worth looking at what else is happening in their lives which could be the root cause.
If your partner increases drinking or starts abusing substances, even prescribed ones, this is a red flag that something else might be going on. People often turn to substances as a way to ‘escape’ from their reality or numb any pain they might be experiencing, but unfortunately, it can actually make things a lot worse.
Other signs may include changes in weight or appetite, fatigue or loss of energy, and difficulty concentrating or making decisions. However, one single symptom doesn’t necessarily indicate a mental health issue, but rather it’s a combination of symptoms that may signal it’s more than just having a bad day.
McCorry says, "Any of the above things can be a sign that your partner might be suffering from a mental health concern, so it is important to treat it seriously. Consider first talking to them about what might be happening, simply by opening up the lines of communication and really asking how they are. If your partner doesn’t seem to feel comfortable talking to you, that’s ok, but it’s important to suggest other places where they might feel comfortable talking. Places like Beyond Blue and Lifeline offer free over the phone counselling, and services like Lysn offer appointments with a psychologist from the comfort of your own home."