I was inspired to do this blog post by CALM‘s campaign which was supported and featured on This Morning: “Project 84.” On 26th March 2018 the studio of the ITV show This Morning now unveiled an art installation by US artist Mark Jenkins in order to spread awareness and get people talking about men and mental health, a topic which is often ignored. The installation features 84 life sized sculptures which represent real men who have lost their lives to suicide.
I was shocked to read that 84 men per week commit suicide and 75% of suicides in 2015 were male. What is even more shocking is societies attitudes to men talking about their mental health. In society men are often pressured to be “strong,” yet people forget that there is so much strength in talking about your feelings and your mental health. It isn’t a sign of weakness to be mentally ill, and people should stop labelling mentally ill people as weak. It takes so much strength to be fighting an illness that isn’t commonly visible and also isn’t commonly accepted as a severe illness. Though mental illness isn’t the same as physical illness, it can be just as severe and damaging (and even more so, in some cases).
As I am not a man, I can’t comment on more than observations but I can see how damaging the stigma surrounding men dealing with mental health issues is. I’ve noticed that a lot of my male friends find it harder to speak about their mental health than my female friends do. And I am a huge believer that speaking out and asking for help is a huge step forward towards recovery. Don’t suffer in silence. It is not weak to feel down or to be dealing with mental illness.
I really think that people should encourage their male friends to talk about how they feel more often. Make it normal to talk about how you’re feeling. You don’t know how much you can help a friend by just listening to how they’re feeling. Please speak to someone if you have any worries about your mental health. It can be a friend, a doctor, a family member.
CALM is a charity that exists to prevent male suicide. The charity both provides support for men struggling with mental illness and also fights against the damaging stigma surrounding men and mental health. If you or a friend are struggling the website has a helpline or an online web chat that can be accessed.
We need everyone to take a step in destroying societies ideas that men can’t show emotions and that talking about mental health is a weakness. If you are struggling please speak to someone. And even if you’re not struggling, make sure your friends know that they can speak to you.
Another way to help is by signing this petition which calls for the UK government to “Make suicide prevention and support a government minister’s responsibility.” This would mean that a government minister would be in charge of, “creating effective suicide prevention plans for every local area.” This would help prevent suicide and also support families affected by suicide. Literally takes a few seconds to sign and would help a lot!