Top 9 Men's Mental Health Tips

Top 9 Men's Mental Health Tips - welzo

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Why is men's mental health important?

Why is men's mental health important?

Mental health refers to a social, behavioural, psychological and emotional state of well-being. Mental health disorders directly impact a person’s behaviour and actions in society. According to the National Alliance on Men's Mental Health, untreated mental health conditions can result in unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide, and poor quality of life. Therefore, maintaining a healthy mental state is crucial in today’s world.

So why is men’s mental health, in particular, just as important? First, men’s mental health and well-being are not often brought up as often due to a multitude of factors. Men sometimes deal with an added stigma that looking for mental health help is a sign of weakness, and that talking about anxiety and depression won't be of any use. Second, they may often be subjected to many outdated societal expectations that have been used to define masculinity such as being ‘strong’ and ‘dominant’ as well as being the ‘breadwinner’ of their household, this then affects how openly they feel like they can talk about their emotions.

Therefore men have a harder time reaching out for help for their mental health.

Research has shown that 40% of men have never spoken to anyone about their mental health. And out of these men, 29% admit that they are "too embarrassed" to talk about it, while 20% say there is a "negative stigma" on the issue.

Not being able to speak out can, unfortunately, lead to various endangering problems for men, such as alcohol and drug abuse, and can go as far as suicide. In 2016, around three out of four of all suicides in the UK were carried out by men. On top of this, suicide is the primary cause of death for men under the age of 35. To avoid these situations, speaking up about one’s mental well-being is crucial. Thankfully, there are many useful resources and charities that are available to help.

Common disorders that affect men’s well-being:

Many disorders and illnesses can impact men’s overall mental health and well-being. In the UK, 12.5% of men suffer from a common mental health disorder. Here are some of the most common mental health disorders and conditions found in men:

-Depression: clinical depression is defined as a state of persistent sadness and feeling of hopelessness that lasts for weeks and months. Depression affects the ability to feel, think, and handle daily activities. It can affect people in many ways.

Some symptoms are:

  • Bad sleeping habits
  • Low mood
  • Low self-esteem
  • Having no appetite or sex drive
  • Aches and pains.
Some common causes for depression can be: life-changing events, such as bereavement, losing your job, etc… Men who have families who deal with depression are also at a higher risk of experiencing it themselves. You can also become depressed due to no obvious reason.

-Anxiety: anxiety is a very common mental health problem. It's a term referring to a feeling of unease (such as worry), that can be mild or severe. There are different types of anxiety such as: generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, panic disorder and health anxiety.

GAD can provoke psychological as well as physical symptoms. These symptoms can range from a: feeling of restlessness, becoming rapidly fatigued, difficulty with concentration, becoming irritable, headaches, muscle-aches, stomachaches, or unexplained pains, difficulty with controlling feelings of worry, sleep problems, etc…

During 2014 in the UK,19.7% of people, aged 16 and over showed symptoms of anxiety or depression.

-Performance anxiety: It’s found that approximately 1 in 10 men in the UK have an issue related to having sex, such as erectile dysfunction (ED) or premature ejaculation (PE). This can sometimes have a psychological effect and lead to performance anxiety. Some causes are often psychological, such as having a traumatic sexual experience at an early age. Some physical causes can be drinking too much alcohol and prostatitis.

-Bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder is a condition that affects a person’s moods, which can change from one extreme to another. People dealing with this disorder have episodes of depression (feeling low) as well as mania (state of feeling high).

In fact, in 2014, it was estimated that around 1.3 million people (or in simpler terms: one in fifty people) in the UK had bipolar disorder.

Some factors that contribute to this disorder are genes, chemical imbalances in the brain, stressful triggers, physical illnesses and sleep disturbances.

-PTSD/Trauma: In the 2014 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing in England, in the large general population sample, 3.7% of men screened positive for PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (also known simply as PTSD) is caused by a shocking, frightening or stressful event. These events could range from shocking accidents, personal attacks, health problems, etc…

The symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety. Other symptoms can also be feelings of isolation, irritability but also guilt. They can extend to problems with sleeping, such as insomnia, and finding concentration hard. These symptoms can sometimes even disturb a person’s day-to-day life.

9 Tips to help improve men’s mental health:

1. Contacting a doctor:

Contacting a doctor

The most important first step to seeking help for your mental health is reaching out to a doctor/GP and gaining the correct medical advice. This can be hard to do for a lot of people, but it’s always best to ask for help, even if you’re not sure whether you’re experiencing a particular mental health problem or disorder. Speaking out to a professional is always the first step to improving one’s mental health.

Your local GP can help give you a precise diagnosis, offer you support and treatments (support therapies and medication), can refer you to a mental health specialist (such as a psychiatrist) and give you some local support options.

To get urgent help for your mental health click the following link: https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/mental-health-services/where-to-get-urgent-help-for-mental-health/

2. Reaching out to close ones:

Reaching out to close ones

Loneliness is linked to higher anxiety, depression, and suicide rates. Isolation and loneliness are also linked to poor cardiovascular health and cognitive function, a higher risk of coronary heart disease, and stroke as well as a 40 per cent increase in dementia.

Consequently, reaching out to others, especially to your close friends, family, carers and neighbours is extremely important in helping to combat these mental health issues. Having your close friends and family around you can be incredibly beneficial on the journey to improving your mental health. They may be able to provide personalised advice, support, or even provide assistance with finding help or information. They may also be able to accompany you to an appointment to provide you with personal support.

They can also share their own experiences and stories with you as well as listen to how you’re feeling. Connecting and gaining better relationships with others around you is essential for your well-being.

3. Getting help through group support/therapists/mental health landlines:

Getting help through group support/therapists/mental health landlines

Many charities and organisations are equally available for men to talk about their mental well-being. Here are just a few charities/organisations/therapists that you can get in contact with:

-Group therapy support:

-Good Men Project

-Menspeak Men’s Group

-Man Down

-We Are Your MATES

-Organisations that can help:

-CALM (a free, confidential and anonymous helpline as well as a web chat service, offering help, advice and information to anyone who is struggling or in crisis)

-Men’s Health Forum (a charity based in Great Britain. Its mission is to improve the health of men and boys in England, Wales, and Scotland)

-Samaritans (charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope or at risk of suicide throughout the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, often through its telephone helpline)

-MIND (a charity that offers information and advice to people with mental health problems and lobbies government and local authorities on their behalf)

-Therapists and counsellors in the UK:

-BetterHelp

-Psychology Today

-UKCP

4. Increase physical activity:

Increase physical activity

There is a direct correlation between mental and physical health. Physical activity is a great way to keep you physically healthy as well as improve your mental well-being. Many studies show that doing exercise releases chemicals in the brain called endorphins. These endorphins interact with receptors in the brain that reduce the perception of pain and can leave you feeling “euphoric”.

Exercising regularly has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety and feelings of depression, boosting self-confidence, improving sleep and overall health.

Activities such as jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing are great ways to reduce anxiety and depression and so can help improve general mental health.

5. Mindfulness/Meditation:

Mindfulness/Meditation

On the one hand, mindfulness can be a great way for men to improve their mental health. Mindfulness is the human ability to be fully present and calmly acknowledge and accept one's feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. It is used as a therapeutic technique. It is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a way to prevent depression in people who have previously experienced three or more bouts of depression. According to NIHR research, mindfulness training can also help reduce anxiety, stress and increase overall wellbeing.

On the other hand, meditation is also a considerable tool in boosting mental well-being. Meditation is a practice in which a person uses a technique like focusing on a particular object, thought, or activity to improve attention and awareness as well as achieving a mentally calm and stable state. Researchers of a 2018 NCCIH-supported analysis found that for treating anxiety and depression, mindfulness-based approaches were better than no treatment at all.

Introducing these simple mindfulness and meditation exercises in your daily routine can lead to good mental health by reducing stress levels.

Some useful websites that offer help with mindfulness and meditation are:

https://www.freemindfulness.org/download

https://www.mindful.org/how-to-meditate/

https://palousemindfulness.com/

https://www.pocketmindfulness.com/how-to-practice-mindfulness-immediately/

https://www.headspace.com/

6. Get better sleep:

Get better sleep

There's a very close relationship between sleep and mental health. Around a third of a person’s life is spent sleeping. It is therefore an essential process, which allows us to function effectively and helps maintain good mental and physical health. Having a mental health condition can affect how well a person sleeps, and on the other hand, poor sleep can have a negative impact on mental health.

The CDC recommends that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a day, with the specific recommendation varying by age.

Sleep disturbances are often commonly found in people suffering from mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Improving your sleeping habits is therefore crucial to boosting your mental well-being.

A few ways to improve your sleeping are:

-sticking to a sleeping schedule

- creating a restful environment

- paying attention to your diet

- limiting daytime naps

- exercising more regularly

7. Improve your diet:

Improve your diet

Eating better can dramatically change one’s mental health in general. Incorporating healthier food (such as vitamins and minerals) into one’s diet is extremely useful for nourishing the brain and body.

There are in fact many studies that show that having a diet consisting solely of refined sugar and processed foods can lead to inflammation throughout the body and brain, which may contribute to mood disorders, including anxiety and depression.

Products having a greater impact on systemic inflammation are foods such as sweets; refined flour; high-fat products; red and processed meat. These products were associated with a significantly increased risk of depression in:

- women

-middle-aged adults

-people that are overweight and obese

Maintaining good gut health, therefore, benefits your mental health. In fact, the colon contains trillions of bacterial cells which make up an ecosystem: the gut microbiome. When the gut microbiome is imbalanced, then your general mood can be directly impacted. This is due to the activity of gut bacteria which influences stress and anxiety. A balanced microbiome can consequently improve your stress resilience, but an imbalanced one can affect your mental health. A study has found that rats that received faecal microbiota from patients with depression (depression microbiota) exhibited depression-like behaviour. This shows that your gut is directly linked to your general mental well-being.

Generally, a diverse microbiome is considered a healthy one. Healthy foods that can therefore help boost and improve your microbiome (and so your mental health) are:

- vegetables, legumes, fruits

-fermented foods (such as yoghourt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and tempeh)

- prebiotic foods (chicory roots, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, Jerusalem artichoke, etc…).

8. Spend more time in nature:

Spend more time in nature

Spending time in nature is linked to both cognitive benefits and improvements in mood, mental health and emotional well-being. Exposure to nature (in green spaces such as parks and forests) has been linked to many benefits such as:

- improved attention

-lower stress

-better mood

-reduced risk of psychiatric disorders

-an increase in empathy and cooperation

Researchers have also found that people who are more connected with nature are generally happier and more likely to feel that their lives are valuable.

9. Reduce your alcohol/smoking/creatine intake:

Reduce your alcohol/smoking/creatine intake
  • Alcohol

Alcohol interferes with our brain’s communication pathways and so affects our brain’s chemistry. In consequence, it can increase the risk of feeling depressed or anxious. In fact, there is also a strong association between drinking heavily and suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and death from suicide. Many experts have also pointed out that people who were depressed and would drink alcohol, who then stopped consuming it, started to feel better within a few weeks.

  • Smoking

Smoking also has a direct link with mental health issues. Like alcohol, it interferes with certain chemicals in the brain. Smoking also increases anxiety and tension. Regular smokers are equally more likely to become depressed over time than non-smokers. Unsurprisingly, your depression, stress and anxiety levels drop when you quit smoking. Your mood and quality of life also improve.

  • Creatine

Creatine is one of the most researched and effective supplements. It’s scientifically proven to improve strength and can lead to muscle growth. Many athletes use it to improve their overall performance and some people use it in the gym to boost their performance. Yet, it poses many problems to mental wellness. Research shows that creatine can increase the risk of mania or depression in susceptible individuals. Hence, reducing your creatine intake can have a beneficial impact on your mental health.

Conclusion:

Mental health has an extremely important role and influence on our day-to-day lives. This also goes for men's mental health, which is sometimes over-looked and even stigmatised. If you or anyone close to you is struggling with their mental health, then know that it is essential to seek out for professional help and to speak up. Know that our connection to other people is fundamental to protecting our mental health.


At Welzo, we offer many kinds of tests to help you with your mental health concerns. See our mental health information here.

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