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Mental health - spotting the signs

Mental health.  A subject very close to my heart.  As I write this I’m in the jaws of yet another difficult episode in my life.  I’m experiencing issues with my own mental health and I can’t lie, it’s pretty tough.  On goes the mask, on goes the face and people watching me wouldn’t know, they’d have no idea.   That’s why mental health can be difficult, it can be quite hidden and people may have no idea that you’re suffering.

1 in 8 men suffer from a common mental health problem - I would argue that it’s really even higher than that to be honest.

Just over three out of four suicides (76%) are by men.

Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women.  We just aren’t great about asking for help and I think that’s why it can be a real problem in men.

I think there are warning signs you can look at, it might be quite subtle but if you’ve spotted your mate acting a bit differently lately, or you see some signs that you think they may be suffering, just ask them.  They may need some extra help and it will give them the chance to open up.

Mental illness? Spot the signs..

  • Eating more or less than normal
  • Mood swings
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling tense or anxious
  • Not sleeping properly (or wanting to sleep all the time)
  • Poor memory or forgetfulness
  • Excessive drinking and/or drug use
  • Feeling really tired and lacking in energy
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Behaving out of character
  • Finding it hard to concentrate and struggling at work
  • Losing interest in things you usually enjoy
  • There may be physical signs too like headaches, irritable bowel syndrome or aches and pains

My personal battle at the moment is a tough one, but I’ve dealt with things before and I know that I will get through it.  I’ve had a huge amount of stress and anxiety to deal with.  Life is tough, I lost my mum last year and with other stresses to deal with I’m having a difficult time of it right now.  It’s pretty awful, I’m no different to anyone else!  Once I’ve talked it through with someone I know I’ll rationalise my thoughts, and it will make me realise that actually my thoughts are quite normal.

It’s important to keep busy, stick to your routine.  Try not to sit down and dwell on things. It’s not helpful.  A problem shared really is a problem halved and it’s not about them solving the problem – it’s more about listening to you and seeing it from your point of view and understanding what you’re going through and being there for you.   If I can open up and be honest, talk about my struggles then so can you, it really does help.

There are lots of organisations out there can help you.

Organisations such as Menscraft have recognised male mental health as a serious issue and are bringing together men’s groups across the region to help get men talking, connecting and getting the help they need.  Visit their website at www.menscraft.org.uk/mensnet.

Meeting up with your mates, or family and connecting with others is one of the key things that helps your emotional wellbeing.  It makes you realise you all have similar issues.

If you’re concerned about a loved one ending their life there is the stay alive app – a really useful resource that’s free to download.   It’s got links to local support and some useful techniques to help you.  Access the help you need here: www.norfolk.gov.uk/iamokay

It’s important to tackle those issues and get help before you reach those depths.  Don’t be alone don’t be afraid.  Suffering from mental health is very common.   I’m fighting my own personal battles and I have friends who suffer with their mental health too.  It’s more common than you think.

What I would say is to open up , share your problems and your thoughts. People are a lot more understanding than you may think.

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Norfolk County Council's Menkind campaign is not affiliated with the gift and gadget retailer 'Menkind'

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