International Men’s Day – Seek Help With Mental Health

Mental Health / Men's Health

Ahead of International Men’s Day on Sunday 19 November the Public Health Agency (PHA) is encouraging men with feelings of anxiety or distress, or who may be in crisis, to start the conversation about their thoughts and feelings. The theme for International Men’s Day 2023 is ‘zero male suicide’.

Fiona Teague, Regional Lead for Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing at the PHA said: “Suicide is preventable, it is not inevitable, people of all ages and walks of life can experience suicidal thoughts. It is so important that if men are struggling with their feelings that they can talk to someone.  It is important to know that help and support is available if those thoughts and feelings surface.

“It can be a view of some that men talking about their feelings can be a sign of weakness but it is in fact a sign of strength to talk to others about feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, and through talking, things can get better.

“The most important step men can take is to reach out for advice, whether that’s to family, a friend, their GP or a mental health professional.

“Our mental health is as important as our physical health – if we feel physical discomfort we would not hesitate in addressing it and it is just as important to look after your mental health in the same way.

“There is always hope that things can improve and talking about your mental health is the first step to feeling better.”

The Lifeline helpline is available 24/7, 365 days a year, with trained counsellors ready to help men talk through whatever is troubling them. They are available on 0808 808 8000.

Mark Kernohan, a Team Leader for the Lifeline service said: “Sometimes we can’t fix it by ourselves, sometimes we need to ask for that help and support and that can be really difficult to do.

“But the first step is actually to reach out and speak to someone and sometimes somebody you don’t know can be beneficial, it can be much easier to tell them exactly what’s going on.

“You’ll be heard and listened to.” There are also other avenues of support available, including many of the helplines on Helpline NI (www.HelplinesNI.com).

The PHA’s Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing also provides a useful template for starting to look after your mental health and can be built into a daily routine. They encourage people to Connect, Keep Learning, Give, Take Notice and Be Active.

Fiona Teague concluded: “We can all play a part in looking after each other and we would encourage family members, friends and colleagues to look out for signs that someone may be struggling with their mental health.

“That can include changes in mood, emotional outbursts, weight or appetite changes, substance abuse, an increase in alcohol consumption, or not taking an interest in things they would have done previously.

“Asking someone if they are OK and really listening to the response can be the first step to supporting them to get the help they need.”

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