Using a simple acronym, learn how the word "alert" can help save a life.
Men’s mental health is an issue that needs more of a spotlight. Men are struggling silently and suffering as a result. Globally, on average one man dies by suicide every minute.
In the United States, 3 out of 4 suicides are completed by men.
What is the issue?
We need to first acknowledge that this is a problem and there has to be more of a solution-focused discussion on men’s mental health needs. Early intervention will provide men with skills and tools to address their needs.
The simple solution is that we need to get men talking about their mental health. My goal is to promote the conversation around depression, anxiety, and other mental health struggles. Men deal with these problems; this is not just something that women or non-binary individuals experience. For instance, women are twice as likely to participate in outpatient therapy than men, yet men are still suffering significantly.
What do I do if I notice the young man or man in my life seems off?
We often make assumptions about what is going on, how people are feeling, and we often never ask the question. If you think that your son/brother/boyfriend/husband seems off, check in with them and ask how they are doing. There’s no harm in checking in and asking this simple but important question.
Without judgment, just listen to them. Men struggle with talking. It’s not in our nature to openly discuss our feelings (you can blame this on unspoken societal expectations). Don’t come up with solutions; those will come, be patient! Try to hear what is going on for him and listen for themes.
Many get empathy and sympathy wrong. Simply put, sympathy is “I feel sorry for you”. When you sympathize, you separate yourself from the other person’s emotions. Picture yourself standing facing this person. Empathy is, “this really sucks!”. Empathy shows that you are feeling along with them. Focus on expressing empathy; this will show that you care and that they are being heard.
Respond by reflecting on the content of what he said. Don’t jump to solutions just yet! By responding to the content, you are showing him that you’ve listened and you are rewarding his vulnerability.
Now’s the time to take action. Were there any solutions that he brought up? If not, ask “How can I help?” or “What can we do to address this?”. By asking these open-ended questions you are trying to evoke action that is driven by him. Now you can provide answers, especially if it means you can help guide him toward a positive path forward.