Manoeuvring Movember: 7 Tips To Remember For Men’s Mental Health Month
Look around you, and the moustaches may be in full bloom – but what do they mean? As a positive reinforcement for men to discuss their mental health issues, traditionally a conversation that was left unasked and often taboo, Movember is a global initiative and form of solidarity that sheds light on what men go through not only physically, but mentally. But how do you gain the tools to support men’s mental health month and where do you begin? Let’s talk. When there’s open dialogue, nothing feels better.
Before any tips are laid out, let’s take a look at some statistics from the Canadian Mental Health Association that prompt discourse:
- More than young people and women, middle-aged men (aged 45-64) commit suicide (Centre for Suicide Prevention, 2022)
- More than women, men are 2 to 3 times more likely to fall into substance abuse in a harmful way (Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, 2017)
- Men die by suicidal attempts 3 times more than women (Centre for Suicide Prevention)
Another statistic from the Canadian Red Cross blog, referencing a note from the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation, says that approximately 1 million men suffer from major depression in Canada every year.
These statistics alone are staggering, and they could partially be a product of men feeling like they can’t talk about personal issues due to stereotypes or discomfort. On top of that, they may put off going to treatment facilities or speaking to a therapist when addiction or suicidal thoughts linger. “Manning up” often doesn’t consider being vulnerable.
What is Movember all about? It’s a time to talk to men about their feelings and mental health struggles. It’s a time of listening and healing. It’s a celebration of more life. Let’s join forces so you can have or continue to have integral conversations with the dudes in your life.
How To Make Conversations More Comfortable With Men During Movember
When is men’s mental health awareness month? It’s all of November, but the check-ins and ongoing dialogue shouldn’t stop there. Even though November is marked as men’s mental health month, carry these following tips with you all year round so you can have more effective (and even life-saving) meetings of the minds with the guys you hold close to your heart. Because breaking down barriers and making help more accessible starts by opening up the floor and meeting men where they are – allowing you to nurture deeper conversations.
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1. Pay Attention To Their Verbal Or Body Language
One of the first ways in which you can have a productive discussion during men’s mental health month is to simply look out for any changes in their behaviour or attitude. A stark difference in their personality can be indicative of something else, so pay attention to their shifts (like missing multiple phone calls, seeming more distant, numbing themselves with substances). These changes may mean they’re spiralling or removed, so don’t discount these factors, and think about when’s the best time to talk to them in a concerned, careful way.
2. Plan For The Conversation And Be Prepared To Face An Argument
Map out your talking points that come from a place of love. Maybe you can suggest things like “how have things really been for you?”, “do you feel happy with where you are right now?”, or “are you secure and what can I do to better help out, if anything?”. Plan when to have a conversation. If you know them well enough, meet in person in a more private setting to make them comfortable. If distance is in the way, speak over the phone. If they start getting defensive or argumentative, diffuse as much as possible – try not to place blame.
3. Have A Talk While Doing Something They Love
Avoid instantly problem-solving by having the discussion over one of their favourite activities. Perhaps they enjoy taking an outdoor hike, or indulging in their comfort meal, and in this moment, you can make them feel more comfortable when they’re in their element. It takes a certain level of pressure off.
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4. Be As Casual As You Can
Sometimes, men may feel intimidated or thrown for a loop when bombarded with questions about their mental health or well-being. Try to keep it low-intensity and be flexible in having quick chats instead of drawn-out conversations.
5. Encourage Action Whenever Possible
Sincere encouragement is crucial, during men’s mental health month and onwards. Remember that you’re not situated to tell them how to fix their own issues, but you’re there to hear them out and be supportive. Simple and proactive questions like, “what has helped you in the past?” or “who else can you confide in?” are action-packed.
6. Continue Offering What You Have
Don’t emotionally exhaust yourself, but do check-in with the men in your life you see or know could use a listening ear. Keep ongoing conversations free of judgement and show the genuine desire to help. Social media DMs and texts to let them know you’re there are valid as well.
7. Show Them A World Of Resources
There are so many programs and assisting resources out there for men to take full advantage of for men’s mental health month. A few you can point them to are:
- The Canadian Men’s Health Foundation for info, tools, and motivation that help men live healthier lives
- Buddy Up for a closer look at communicating with men’s suicide prevention tactics
- Movember for prevention, early intervention, and health promotion
- HeadsUpGuys for anonymous and online men’s mental health resources
- MindShift CBT App for anxiety relief
Always remember that while you’re giving your support, it’s okay to take a step back if things become overwhelming. Just inform another trusted person to step in and handle the situation if burnout is real. When it comes to Movember and the minds of men, we must all allow them to grow in the best ways they can.
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