In 2020, there was a thought-provoking campaign released on social media called Boys Do Cry. Produced in partnership with the University of Melbourne, the campaign shines a light on the experience of men silencing themselves when it comes to facing and talking about their mental health. A group of men from all walks of life sing, Don’t like to talk about it, we bottle it all up inside. We man up like our father’s taught us, hiding the tears in our eyes.... Your strength is not in silence... Real men get help. The words are both chilling and captivating. Your strength is not in silence. A dominating theme of the campaign is encouraging men to talk about their emotions through conversation. Conversations. Noun. a talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged. Synonyms. Discussion, chat, talk, heart to heart. So, conversations are informal, casual and easy right? Then why are men struggling to have them when it comes to their mental health? Beyond Blue reports that on average, one in eight men will experience depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives but men are less likely to seek help for mental health conditions than women. Clinical Psychologist Matthew Stanton sheds light on some of the challenges that men face when it comes to their mental health in 2023 and what we can do collectively to encourage, uplift, support and cheer on our male counterparts. What are some common causes of poor mental health in men? \tFinancial stress \tRelationship strain \tParenting and attitudes towards this \tLack of emotional literacy, awareness, openness https://www.lifematters.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Man-headache-stress-financial.png What are some of the common mental health issues you are seeing in men right now? Anxiety for sure. With men it is often not a specific anxiety, and they’re not aware of triggers, so they tend not to reflect and discuss what's going on for them. Rather, they try to push on. There also seems to be a lot more depressions appearing with more psychological features, rather than depressions that have more biological or bodily features. The third most common presentation is men with undiagnosed ADHD. How do men usually show stress/anxiety? I think it is shown mostly through frustration and irritability. When men feel these emotions, they are less tolerant of others and hey tend to withdraw from social and other activities. Some men tend to neglect themselves and turn to food and alcohol for comfort. This happens more so in men who are less open and socially connected. Men who have partners are more likely to acknowledge to their partners that they are not coping or have had enough. What do you think men find it so hard to talk about their emotions? Being a man, our masculinity is defined by our ability to hold our own, to protect ourselves, to protect others. Men hate to fail, especially in front of others. So, they don’t like to communicate or take social risks as often as women as they don’t want to socially fail, be rejected or disapproved of with their vulnerability. When other men take these risks, it is easier for men to acknowledge their vulnerability. Men see other men being open about their vulnerability as courageous champions. Studies have also shown that women can more easily activate emotion-related regions in their brain whereas men engage other networks related to cognitive evaluation, mentalising and behaviour anticipation. As someone passionate about wellbeing, where would you like to see men’s mental health go in 2023 and beyond? As individuals, I’d like men to know it is a strength to say that they’re not going ok and let their mates know what is overwhelming them. This leads other men to ‘check in’ and ‘support’ them. Men need mates to connect with and be socially and active with through a shared interest. Collectively, we also need to rally and join public conversations like men’s mental health week which is just around the corner (June 12-18) and six months from now there is International Men’s Day which is celebrating Mateship. Also, there is awesome campaigns like Movember which have changed the face of men’s mental health. I love that the theme of Men's Health Week this year is Healthy Habits - focusing on encouraging guys to identify small changes they can make to benefit their health and wellbeing. For me, this is meeting up with a mate or having weekly conversations about life stuff. During mental health week, we’re also running a workshop focused on helping men understand the difference between what is ‘normal’ & when to seek more help. Check it out - Anxious Bloke: A men’s mental health check-up. When should a man have a conversation? \tWhen someone asks how you're going and you find yourself 'pausing' or 'stumbling' for a response (and you know there is a different answer under the surface) \tWhen you know there are things under the surface in your mind and heart that you are worried and upset about \tWhen you feel ‘lost’, confused, you need time to chat and be ‘heard’ \tWhen it's becoming increasingly difficult to work, connect with the people you care about \tWhen you’re feeling 'emotionally' tired (with feelings of despair, down, disrupted, wired and/or stressed) Sources. \t2022. Beyond Blue. Factors Affecting Men. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/who-does-it-affect/men \t2020. Boys do Cry. https://boysdocry.com.au/thecampaign \t2010. Birgit Derntl, Andreas Finkelmeyer, Simon Eickhoff, Thilo Kellermann, Dania I. Falkenberg, Frank Schneider, Ute Habel, Multidimensional assessment of empathic abilities: Neural correlates and gender differences, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Volume 35, Issue 1, Pages 67-82, ISSN 0306-4530,mhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2009.10.006.