Boys don’t cry. Man up. Be a man. Phrases like these stop men talking about mental health issues. They’re part of the reason why one in eight men has a common mental health problem in England. It’s why three times as many men die by suicide in the UK compared to women, and why men are overwhelmingly less likely to receive psychological therapy.
To save men’s lives, something has to change. But the actions many men take in response to mental health issues – brushing it off, bottling it up – simply aren’t working. Instead, men need to see that opening up isn’t a sign of weakness, but the path to a happier and more balanced life.
Here, The Massage Company is giving its top tips on what men can do to help alleviate their mental health issues.
Whether it’s with friends and family, or with an independent therapist, the first step to solving any problem is talking about it.
There are many different types of therapy available. Would you like someone who can help you think about unhelpful patterns of behaviour? Cognitive Behavioural Therapy might be the right solution. Need help overcoming a specific challenge such as addiction? Counselling could be a great way to find out how others have had the same challenge before, and the steps they have taken to overcome it.
The majority of humans love giving advice, but how often do you listen to your own? The next time you are struggling with a mental health issue, ask yourself: what would I say to myself in this situation? And remember to lend an ear to other men when they are in need – after all, the more we listen to others, the closer we get to cracking the stigma about men opening up.
If you aren’t ready to speak out, even just keeping a diary can help you recognise negative symptoms or thoughts, helping you understand whatever might trigger anxiety or other mental health issues.
Exercise has vast physical benefits, including boosting your energy, helping you sleep better and reducing the risk of diabetes. But it also reduces anxiety and depression and improves your mood by releasing endorphins – the so-called ‘feel-good hormones’.
By exercise, we don’t mean cranking out reps until you look like Jean Claude Van Damme. Just a brief 30 minute session of moderate exercise a day can be enough to help reduce depression and anxiety. In fact, studies show that there is a 20% to 30% lower risk of depression and dementia for adults participating in daily physical activity.
Beyond exercise, finding a new hobby can be key to alleviating mental health issues. Maybe it’s cooking. Maybe it’s gardening. Maybe it’s whacking a ball into the sun at the driving range. Whatever it is, find something to do that transports you somewhere else for a while.
Did you know that massage is a fantastic aid to mental health? That’s because, as well as improving circulation and blood flow, massage releases endorphins (just like exercise) that improve your mood and contribute to reducing depression.
Massage has been growing in popularity – in fact, at The Massage Company, around 38%-40% of the client base is men. And in a recent survey to the customer base, 31% of people ticked one of their main reasons for going for a massage as mental health.
The crux of the issue is this – you can’t afford to put your own needs at the bottom of your priority list. If you want to improve your mental health, you need to commit time and effort to the goal. It’s not unmanly, it’s not weak and it’s not vulnerable – it’s putting yourself back on the path to a happy state of mind.
Since its inception in 2016, The Massage Company has continued to challenge common pre-conceptions of massage and the stereotype of the industry. Their vision is simple: to bring high-quality massage to the wellbeing mainstream. They want people to see massage as accessible to everyone and good value for money, so it can become a vital and routine part of a better and balanced quality of life.