International Mens day 2023

As we approach International Men’s Day and its theme for 2023, ‘Zero Male Suicides,’ I wanted to take a moment to discuss something that affects far too many lives around the world.

So, grab a cup of tea or coffee, and get comfortable, because today, we’re talking about mental health awareness, suicide prevention, and the value of training programs like Mental Health First Aid and Suicide First Aid, especially for men.

Now, let’s jump into the heart of today’s discussion and explore how we can contribute to the vision of ‘Zero Male Suicides.’

Before we delve into the importance of mental health awareness and suicide prevention, let’s look at some staggering statistics that highlight the gravity of the issue globally and here in the UK.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 800,000 people die by suicide globally every year. Shockingly, that’s one person every 40 seconds. And while suicide affects both men and women, the rates are consistently higher among men. In fact, men account for around 75% of all suicides worldwide.

Now, let’s bring it closer to home. In the United Kingdom, the statistics are equally sobering. In recent years, suicide has been the leading cause of death among men under the age of 50. Men aged 40 to 50 years old have the highest suicide rate of any other demographic and 10 men kill themselves each week in the construction industry here in the UK

Behind these numbers are not just statistics but individuals, families, and communities grappling with the aftermath of these tragedies. Suicide has a profound and lasting impact on the people left behind.

As we discuss ‘Zero Male Suicides’ on International Men’s Day, it’s crucial that we confront these statistics head-on and work together to create a world where these numbers become a thing of the past.

So, what exactly is stigma? In the context of mental health, stigma refers to the negative attitudes and beliefs that society holds toward those facing mental health challenges. It can manifest as judgment, discrimination, or even silence, preventing individuals from seeking help when they need it most.

For men, societal expectations often dictate that they should be strong, unyielding, and impervious to emotional struggles. These stereotypes can create a toxic environment where expressing vulnerability is seen as a sign of weakness.”

Breaking the stigma is not just about numbers and figures; it’s about individuals. It’s about that friend, that family member, or even yourself who might be hesitant to share their struggles due to fear of judgment.

Let’s challenge these stereotypes. Throughout history, countless men have demonstrated strength not just in stoicism, but in their ability to express vulnerability, seek help, and overcome challenges. These stories of resilience remind us that seeking support is a courageous and vital step.

Breaking the stigma also involves dispelling myths and misconceptions about mental health. It’s important to recognise that mental health issues are not a choice, a weakness, or something to be ashamed of. They are medical conditions that require understanding, compassion, and support.

Now, let’s explore how Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Suicide First Aid (SFA) training can play a crucial role in empowering individuals, especially men, to make a difference.

So, what exactly is Mental Health First Aid? Much like traditional first aid for physical health, MHFA is a training program designed to equip individuals with the skills to recognise the signs of mental health challenges and provide initial support until professional help is available.

Studies have shown that individuals trained in MHFA are more confident in their ability to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis. The impact is real, and the knowledge gained can be life-saving.

For men, who might face unique challenges and societal pressures, MHFA training becomes a tool for empowerment. It allows them to recognise when someone might be struggling, offering a lifeline of understanding and support.

The beauty of MHFA is its practicality. It’s not about becoming a mental health expert but about knowing how to respond with empathy and compassion. Just as we learn CPR for physical emergencies, MHFA gives us the skills to provide psychological first aid.

Now, let’s talk about Suicide First Aid (SFA). This specialised training focuses on recognising the signs of suicidal ideation and providing immediate assistance. It’s a critical extension of MHFA, acknowledging the specific challenges posed by suicidal thoughts.

By investing in MHFA and SFA training, we become active participants in creating a world where individuals, regardless of gender, can get the support they need.

If you’re watching this and thinking, ‘How can I make a difference?’ – MHFA and SFA training is a powerful way to start. Empower yourself with the knowledge to support those around you.

As we navigate our journey toward ‘Zero Male Suicides,’ we now turn our attention to a vital aspect of mental health — self-care. In a world that often demands so much from us, taking care of our mental well-being becomes paramount.

Self-care isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a fundamental practice that involves taking intentional actions to preserve and improve our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It’s about recognising our needs and giving ourselves the care, we deserve.”

Studies consistently show that individuals who prioritise self-care report better mental health outcomes. When it comes to suicide prevention, maintaining a healthy balance and managing stress can be crucial protective factors.

For men, societal expectations can sometimes create challenges in embracing self-care. The notion of ‘toughing it out’ or ‘keeping it together’ can lead to neglecting one’s own mental health. It’s essential to challenge these stereotypes and recognise that self-care is a strength, not a weakness.

Self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant; it can be as simple as setting boundaries, practising mindfulness, or engaging in activities that bring joy. Taking time for oneself isn’t selfish; it’s a necessary investment in mental well-being.

As we champion mental health, let’s encourage one another, especially men, to prioritise self-care. It’s not only an act of self-love but a proactive step in preventing mental health challenges from escalating.

In our journey toward ‘Zero Male Suicides,’ one of the most powerful tools we have is open communication. It’s time to break down the walls of silence and foster conversations about mental health.

Open communication about mental health involves creating an environment where individuals feel safe to express their thoughts, feelings, and struggles without fear of judgment. It’s about breaking the stigma and letting others know they’re not alone.

For men, societal expectations around misunderstandings of masculinity can sometimes act as barriers to open communication. The pressure to appear strong and self-reliant can make it challenging to express vulnerability.

Encouraging men to find the right positive masculine environment such as men’s clubs and groups helps to redefine strength as the courage to share and seek support is essential.

Listening is a cornerstone of open communication. Often, individuals just need someone to listen without judgment. By offering a supportive and empathetic ear, we contribute to a culture where reaching out for help is normalised.

Meaningful conversations have the power to change lives. Sharing experiences, struggles, and triumphs creates a sense of connection and understanding. It’s through these conversations that we realise we are not alone in our challenges.

As we advocate for mental health, let’s encourage open communication. Check-in on friends, family, and colleagues. Sometimes, a simple ‘How are you?’ can open the door to a conversation that makes all the difference.

In our pursuit of ‘Zero Male Suicides,’ we recognise the vital role that communities play in shaping mental health outcomes. Building supportive communities is not just a collective effort; it’s a powerful force in preventing mental health challenges from escalating.

A supportive community is one where individuals feel understood, accepted, and valued. It’s a network of people who actively promote mental well-being and provide a safety net for those facing challenges.

For men, societal expectations may sometimes discourage seeking support from others. Building communities that acknowledge and challenge these expectations is essential. It’s about creating spaces where men feel comfortable expressing vulnerability and seeking help.

There are numerous community-based initiatives around the world that focus on mental health awareness and support. From local support groups to events that destigmatise mental health conversations, these efforts are crucial in fostering a sense of belonging.

Social connection is a powerful protective factor against mental health challenges for the masculine soul. Meaningful relationships, whether with friends, family, or community members, contribute to a sense of purpose and support.”

As we advocate for mental health, let’s actively engage in community initiatives. Whether it’s participating in local events, supporting mental health organisations, or simply being there for someone in need, our collective efforts can create a world with ‘Zero Male Suicides.

I hope this exploration into mental health and suicide prevention on International Men’s Day has been enlightening and empowering. Remember, our collective efforts contribute to a vision of a world with “Zero Male Suicides.

The journey toward ‘Zero Male Suicides’ is not just a goal: it’s a call to action. By raising awareness, breaking stigma, and equipping ourselves with knowledge and compassion, we become active participants in creating a mentally healthy world.

I encourage each one of you to take a step. Whether it’s engaging in mental health training, prioritising self-care, fostering open communication, or actively participating in community initiatives – your contribution is significant.

Let’s continue this conversation, not just today but every day. Let’s challenge stereotypes, break down barriers, and create an environment where mental health is prioritised, supported, and celebrated.

Thank you for reading. Remember, your impact matters. Until next time, take care, be kind to yourself and others, and let’s make strides towards a mentally healthy world.