It’s weird when people in the limelight die. We often find ourselves in a place of nostalgia, listening to their back catalogue of hits or watching their best movies. Sometimes we talk about them as though they were long lost friends or we reminisce about their antics over a coffee. Then there are the times where the death of someone in the limelight truly cuts deep, as though we loved them like our own family.
I’ve experienced that last feeling twice in my life. The first time I felt that true sadness was when Robin Williams died. I grew up watching him. All of my favourite movies were his and he reminded me a lot of my own dad. The second time was when Chris Cornell died. Chris was one of my first loves. I idolised him as a beautiful man when I was a teenager and as a man with the most incredible talent and voice as an adult. Both of these men chose to take their own life and both deaths were completely preventable.
“And if you don’t believe the sun will rise, stand alone and greet the night in the last remaining light.” — Chris Cornell
There’s been a lot of talk around the rates of male suicide here in Australia. The resent death of Danny Frawley again shone a light on the issue. In 2018, the highest proportion of suicide deaths in Australia came from those aged between 30–59 with men more than 3 times more likely to take their own life than women. There is also the damning statistic from the World Economic Forum that loneliness is the biggest threat in the world in 2019. Why is this statistic important when we’re talking about male suicide? After centuries of toxic definitions of masculinity, men typically struggle to have open and honest conversations about how they’re feeling.
We can all support the men in our life to develop their own great mental health. Here are 3 simple ways we can all help.
Have an engaging conversation
In the age of constant connection, we are more lonely than ever. Men, in particular can often feel the sting of loneliness. Women tend to have strong female support networks, have more meaningful conversations about feelings and actively seek out company. Men on the other hand, are less likely to engage in a conversation about feelings with their mates and rarely ask for advice around mental health. Start a conversation over a coffee or while on a long drive. You might like to try asking some key questions:-
- How’s everything going?
- Anything going really well?
- Anything a little difficult at the moment?
- Is there anything I can do to help?
One word of caution here. Always make sure that these conversations come from a place of authenticity and genuine interest otherwise it can come across as contrived and may in fact push your men away.
Change the definition of masculinity
For as long as any of us can remember, young boys have been raised to be strong men. The problem is that the way we define strength is all wrong. In fact, men are generally raised to avoid vulnerability which is often seen as a sign of weakness. This definition is completely inaccurate. In fact, vulnerability is one of the biggest demonstrators of our strength. The great news is that the conversations around strength and vulnerability are happening more and more thanks to the great work of some big names. We can encourage our men to be brave and embrace vulnerability by creating space for vulnerable conversations, opening up first, developing high trust relationships and by being forgiving.
Encourage active mateship
A pint or two at the pub certainly has its place but research shows that those that participate in active social activities are less stressed, more resilient and have reduced depression and anxiety markers. According to the 2017 Community Perceptions Survey, 8 in 10 people also believe it improves and creates close friendships. Get your guys out on a hike, swim or to hang out in the surf with friends. Encourage them to join a sports team or grab the bros for some yoga. However the men in your life like to get active, fully encourage it and maybe get involved too. After all, active friendship has a whole host of benefits for you too!
“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.” — Robin Williams
The single biggest thing we can all do is to break down the sigma of mental health is to talk about it. I’m sure that every single one of us has a man in our life that’s struggled with mental health at one point and most of them are likely to have found it difficult to access the help they needed at the time too. Let’s do all we can to break down the barriers preventing more men getting help before we lose more of our wonderful, talented sons, brothers, fathers, lovers and friends.
Until next time,
If you’re finding it a little tricky to get back to the best you then hypnosis can really help. Want to work with me? Visit me at The Sharp Mind or book your first session with me at the Lotus Centre in Brookvale today. Or contact me on 0437248134 or at Rebecca@thesharpmind.com.au to find out how I can help.