While there’s still some way to go, there are signs that more and more men are beginning to open up about how they’re feeling.
Canterbury counsellor Dr Karey Meisner gives much of the credit to Sir John Kirwan.
“Thanks to John Kirwan, people – including, most importantly, men themselves – are now talking more openly about mental wellbeing. The topic is well and truly out of the shadows and into public view,” says Karey.
So who are men talking to?
Many men talk with their partners, but this isn’t for everyone. Some men do not have partners (40% of men are single), and for the other 60%, talking with your partner about it is not always the easiest, or the best, option.
A lot of the time it comes down to finding a good mate who you can open up to.
“The next time your mate asks you how you are simply let them know. It may be a few words (‘not good mate’) and a facial expression to match. Don’t be afraid to show that there are things you’d like to talk about," says Karey.
Karey says that if you don’t have a close friend, identifying a man from your networks - family, social, work or sports - who you think would ‘get it’ or who have already ‘been there’, is a good start.
“Signalling to them in advance that you want to speak about something personal can allow you to gauge their willingness and give them the time to ready themselves. Don’t worry if words don’t come easily - you don’t have to go into detail. The key is that they know where you’re at. Simply knowing you’re not in this alone can make a big difference.”
Being there for a mate
Karey says a lot of the time, guys who have ‘been there’ will be able to spot the sign of someone who could benefit from having a chat about how they’re doing. Comments like ‘I’m not sure about anything anymore, mate’, actions like working really late hours, or being irritable can all be tell-tale signs.
“You don’t have to give them lots of words, a lot of the time you just need to let him know that you get it. Once that man knows you understand the struggle, then keep in touch so that he knows you are watching out for him. The fact that they know another man knows and has his interests at heart can be enough to sustain a person through quite a bit.”
“For other men who need to talk it through to keep it going, be available. It doesn’t necessarily mean fixing it; venting can be good as it lowers the distress.”
Karey believes it takes genuine courage to show vulnerability and disclosing mental health concerns to another man.
As more men talk openly to other men about where they’re at and how they’re doing, it has a snowball effect because it increases the number of men who have ‘been there’. With more men having ‘been there’, it means there are more men available to identify a mate who could benefit from talking things through.”
To be willing to show vulnerability, offer compassion or support – manly as.
Mates helping mates
Sometimes simply being there is enough, as this Toyota advertisement beautifully shows...