How do we foster better mental health as men?
Does the responsibility lie with ourselves or with the State? Or is it somewhere in between?
Ultimate Performance founder Nick Mitchell discusses the issue of men’s mental health and how men can be encouraged to reach out for help with PR and Content Manager, Ben Kenyon.
Ben Kenyon: I mean there’s always the argument whether things come from the top down, or whether it’s all a matter of personal responsibility. And, obviously, that’s a continuum, and different people will be somewhere different on that continuum.
But is there something that the State should be doing to help create the conditions for better men’s health?
Nick Mitchell: Is there anything specifically that I think that the Government should do to help further the causes of men’s health?
They should make men aware that men are not indestructible.
They should make men aware that you do not have to lose your identity as a man, your assertiveness as a man, your feelings of masculinity, by going to ask for help.
Because what happens is, there are messages ‘Ask for help. It’s okay for a man to cry. Blah, blah, blah.’ There are these messages.
But these messages are delivered in such a way that it demeans typical masculine qualities.
Whereas I think that we need to have a message that praises typical masculine qualities. The protector. Women – the nurturer. The male – the protector.
But instead, it’s not the protector, the man is pitched as the aggressor.
And this is what we need to get away from, and we need to say “You can be the protector. You can be the man.” Whatever that means. Because it’s so personal, right?
And at the same time, you can ask for help at the same time.
Being a man, for me…Being a man is not about crying when I’ve got a problem. Not a chance. You know me. You know me well enough, right? That’s not going to happen.
But, for me, being a man is being honest enough to put my hand up and go “I don’t know the answer to this question. I’m not sure of what to do. I need help.”
And for someone like me, who’s fiercely independent, it’s always been very difficult for me to put my hand up and go “I need help.” Asking a question? A piece of cake, because I’m confident enough in myself to admit very easily when I don’t know something.
But to ask for help, this is a hard thing for a man to do. So, we should find ways to encourage men to ask for help without demeaning the things that intrinsically make some men feel that they’ve got a solid place in society.
When times are tough, our mental health can suffer. But there are plenty of things we can do to support good mental wellbeing. Exercise is one of them. Click here for Nick’s thoughts in an illuminating Q&A with actress, mother and U.P. client Cath Tyldesley.