Men Need a Community!

How we can help men to talk and support building a community around them

MEN NEED A COMMUNITY

Why is it that men’s suicide rates are 153 per million while females stand at 49 per million?  Men aged 45-49 are the most at-risk group for suicide. These statistics are shocking and although the conversation has started, it needs to intensify and men’s mental health needs to stop becoming such a taboo subject. It affects us all. What can we do to help?

As a generalisation, most men lack the support systems that women enjoy. Men do not have as many close friends, nor do they have as many networks to rely on. Men tend to suffer in silence and view talking or asking for help as a sign of weakness or as a burden to others. Men have trouble finding the words to describe how they are feeling as traditionally they have not been given the vocabulary necessary to express their feelings. Men were/are taught to be brave, tough, have a stiff upper lip, not to be weak etc. Thankfully, our younger sons are being taught to think differently.

For those people living in Blue Zones (those areas where people live the longest), a strong sense of community is a common factor contributing to longevity.  Feeling like we belong, like we matter, that someone cares for us, that we are part of something bigger than ourselves all contribute to a sense of purpose.

Men are happy to talk about their jobs, sport and their family.  Ask them to talk about themselves or share any vulnerabilities and they’re silent or uncomfortable.  For a multitude of reasons which have been broadly discussed, men need to talk!  We all need to talk!  Sharing our lives in a more authentic way and allowing ourselves to feel vulnerable also gives us some relief, some support, other viewpoints, makes us feel less alone, gets us out of our own heads and strengthens personal relationships.

Men at their most vulnerable are weighed down by numerous perceived and real burdens; demands of a career, a family, money issues, personal issues, leaving little time for self-care or friends.  Also, at 45 they don’t feel young but aren’t old and start to question their purpose and identity around this time. These stressors have a detrimental effect on our gut microbiome, our digestion, our sleep, our moods and our performance.

A most common coping vice is alcohol.  However, we know that this massively disrupts sleep, the one thing that is probably needed the most.  While acting as a temporary relaxant or numbing agent, it only masks problems and potentially exacerbates them longer term.

The link between mental health and gut health is huge and research continues to support this.

 

So, what can we do?

  • Next time you are with a male friend, ask him how he is feeling, not about his job, sport or family but the emotions he’s feeling and how he is feeling about life.
  • Ask him if he’s done anything fun or spontaneous lately? If not, plan something with him.
  • Can you share your feelings, so it becomes a 2-way conversation?
  • Life isn’t perfect. Shit happens.  Share it.  Make others feel that they are not so alone with their thoughts or experiences.
  • Encourage a self-care routine be it exercise and movement, eating better, drinking less, sleeping more, 10-15 minutes a day for themselves .
  • Point out that getting help and talking is a sign of strength not weakness and that by doing so he is setting a better not worse example for his children and loved ones.
  • Next time you are planning a night out, can you avoid it being somewhere loud and centred around drinking? What about meeting earlier or leaving earlier so you can both get to bed at a decent time?
  • What about a walk, run or bike ride with a friend? Being in nature confers many benefits you won’t find in a pub.
  • What about pilates, yoga, tai chi, or a guided meditation?
  • Breathe and develop daily breathing time. Deep belly breathing and not shallow neck breathing is what delivers strength to the Vagus nerve and also helps us enter our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest).
  • Finally, a hug between friends is incredibly beneficial. Or a massage.  Humans crave touch.  Our bodies release “feel good” hormones when touched which include oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin.  These allow us to experience feelings of happiness, relaxation, improve mood, and lower levels of depression.

My offer

Sue is a Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach.  Would you or someone you know, like any help or advice navigating better health outcomes?  Please contact me.

For the month of November, I am offering 5 Health Coaching sessions for the price of 3 to any men who sign up before then end of November.

sue@sgdcoaching.co.uk