Show them that you are there: Counsellor Sarah Barr shares advice on how to talk about mental health if you are concerned for a male friend or relative.

International Men’s Health Week runs each year from June 15th to 21st.

This year’s theme is ‘Restoring the Balance’ and everyone is asked to ‘part of the solution’ and do what they can to support men’s health, in all areas; mental, physical and emotional.

I will focus on men’s mental health and well-being in today’s article and what you can do to help support a male friend, partner or family member who may be having a difficult time at the moment.

In Ireland, 75% of suicides are men.
Men in Ireland are four times more likely to die of suicide than women.

The best way to support a male friend, partner or family member is to show them that you are there.

You are there to listen, not judge and to reassure.

Communicating this is really important. By not addressing the situation or asking the questions could make the situation worse.

If you are worried about someones mental health, it is important to have that conversation and encourage them to ask for support from a doctor or a counsellor.

Here are a few suggestions on how to start a conversation around mental illness:

1. Share your concerns –

Maybe start the conversation about any changes you have noticed in his mood or behaviour.

What you can say:
• “You seem stressed these days. Are you ok?”
• “You seem tired. Is there something bothering you?”
• “How are you?”

2. It is okay to ask for help –

Image: Normal People, RTE

Increased awareness has been created through well known sportsmen and actors. They have helped to start conversations around men’s mental health.

Men like Bressie and David Beckham have all talked about issues that men may have felt ashamed to talk about years ago.

The perception of masculinity is changing within society. Men and boys are being taught and shown that in difficult times it is okay not to feel okay and it is a sign of strength to ask for help.

3. Reassurance that they’re not alone –

Call, message or knock on their door, to show them they’re not alone and you are thinking of them.

Support and reassurance can really help decrease daily stresses and worries.

It takes courage and strength to be vulnerable and to accept help.

If you are worried about your mental health, please reach out. You will not be judged. Your doctor can advise on medication or local counselling services within your area.

Take care, Sarah.