NHS Wellbeing Week: Men's Mental Health

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Health Assured team

16 May 2023

The NHS plays a vital role in the United Kingdom's healthcare system, providing quality care to millions of patients every year. However, the pressures and demands of working in the NHS can take a toll on the mental health of its employees, including male staff members.

Frontline workers are often at a higher risk of experiencing mental health issues, which account for almost 25% of NHS staff sickness absences. There are many factors that contribute to this, including high workloads, long hours, and exposure to traumatic events. 

There has long been a stigma around men’s mental health. This stigma has wide-reaching consequences, as it prevents many men from reaching out and getting the support they need.

While men’s mental health is becoming more prevalent due to various awareness campaigns, there is still an obvious need to help men feel comfortable enough to speak up about their mental health. 

In this article, we will discuss some practical ways that male NHS employees can support their mental health and well-being.

Men’s mental health and stigma

It is no secret that a stigma exists around men’s mental health, and sadly, in the current culture, many men still feel uncomfortable discussing their problems. Men have long suffered in silence due to unrealistic stereotypes and expectations. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The importance of breaking this stigma can be understood from current statistics. For example, 3 out of 4 suicides are men - a staggering statistic which underlines the urgent need to support men’s mental health and encourage them to speak up and seek support.

Identifying the symptoms

There may not always be clear signs that you’re dealing with a significant problem. If your life satisfaction has declined or you’re constantly feeling low, you may be dealing with a mental illness. Here are some of the common signs and symptoms associated with mental illness: 

  • Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
  • Noticeable changes in mood 
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Avoiding friends and withdrawing from social activities 
  • Constant low energy 
  • Drug or alcohol abuse 
  • Ignoring personal hygiene 

Men often feel embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about their mental health. But the bravest thing you can do is tackle the issue before it becomes a bigger problem. It’s important to remember that you are not alone. Many other men are going through the same emotions and struggling to find the best way to cope.

5 tips to improve your mental health

Here at Health Assured, we want to encourage men to speak up and get the support they need. No problem is too small. It’s necessary to tackle any issue as soon as possible before they become a bigger problem. To help with this, we’ve provided a list of tips to help support your mental health through difficult times:

  1. Healthy lifestyle choices

Research has shown that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. So, one technique to improve your mental health involves making healthy lifestyle choices. These lifestyle choices include frequent exercise, healthy eating or getting more sleep. These small changes may not seem like much at first. But, over time, you will be able to see and feel the improvements in your health and wellbeing.

  1. Financial wellbeing

Prices are rising, as are the concerns surrounding the cost of living. At Health Assured, we have seen an 40% increase in financial-related calls to our helpline over the last year. For many men, money worries can significantly impact their health and wellbeing. For example, 14% of men said they have been unable to sleep due to money worries.

Tackling financial stress can be daunting at first, so take it slow. You can start by making a financial plan, so if an emergency or unforeseen expense does arise, you can tackle the issue and hopefully prevent the negative emotional impact. 

  1. Talk to someone you trust

Many men often feel too embarrassed or ashamed to discuss their mental health. This lack of outreach can lead men to deal with their worries internally and struggle in silence. Although difficult, talking about your mental health is another technique which can help you cope with and manage any problems you face.

Opening up for the first time can be difficult. When talking to someone, it’s helpful to talk to someone you trust, someone who will listen with empathy and understanding. A friend or family member is a great place to start; they can offer a new perspective and ask you what they can do to help.

  1. Educate yourself

As mentioned, it can be hard to recognise that you're dealing with a mental health problem. As a result, educating yourself about mental health is extremely useful. So, if you are struggling with poor mental health, you can find methods to alleviate negative feelings, take care of yourself and improve your overall health and wellbeing.

This self-education can also help you understand the commonality of mental health problems. For example, 1-in-4 people suffer from mental health problems each year. From these statistics, you can realise that you are not alone in your struggles.  

  1. Reach out for support

There are numerous options available for treating mental health. Treatment is a common avenue for many people, and those seeking professional support should not feel ashamed to do so. Speaking about your inner worries can be scary, especially with someone you don’t know on a personal level. Nevertheless, mental health professionals can help you understand these feelings.

When you feel ready to speak to someone, you should take some time to think about what you want to discuss. If you go into each appointment with a few talking points: this can help you understand what you want to achieve from the sessions.

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