Medical Questions: Be a Man of More Words

Medical Matters – to mark Movember, ROBERT SHELSWELL, Men’s Health Project Manager at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, talks about men’s mental health and suicide and the support available:

Most of us have heard of Movember, a fun annual event that involves growing mustaches during the month of November.

As a leading men’s health charity, Movember addresses the serious topics of men’s mental health, men’s suicide, as well as prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

I am passionate about men’s health, one aspect of which is men’s mental health, and in recent years it has been great to see people such as the Prince and Princess of Wales helping to raise awareness about this important topic.

However, men’s mental health is rarely talked about, and our partners, fathers, brothers and friends may experience mental health issues in isolation.

According to a survey this year by the Priory Group, 40% of men have never spoken to anyone about their mental health, 40% said it would take thoughts of self-harm or suicide to compel them to see a professional , and 77 percent suffered from mental health symptoms.

In the UK, 76% of all suicides are by men and are the leading cause of death for men aged 19-49 nationally, according to the Office for National Statistics, and it’s an equally statistic. sad and hard to think about.

If you are going through a period of poor mental health, you may find that the ways you normally think, feel, or react become difficult to manage.

It can impact how you make choices, interact with others, and deal with the stresses of everyday life. For some, it can be as serious as a physical illness or even worse. Mental health can vary at different times in life.

In men, for example, it may be a young student anxious or under pressure to adapt to a perceived body image, or an unemployed man in his 50s facing the pressures of a lack of income. or a change in social identity. .

Later in life, an older man may experience isolation or loneliness due to the death of his wife and the lack of family living nearby.

The recent pandemic has highlighted the effect isolation can have on men and their families.

Being separated from family and friends, and not being able to work or mingle socially, has had a huge impact on men’s mental health.

Women are more likely than men to talk about what’s going on and to seek help for mental health issues.

Some research suggests that ‘masculinity’ plays a role in why men don’t talk about their health problems and why they don’t access health services until their problem affects their job or a relationship. close.

Spotting the signs of mental health issues in men include feeling persistently worried, overwhelming feelings of sadness, withdrawal from friends and family, reckless behavior, problems sleeping, feeling tired, and symptoms physical conditions such as shortness of breath or headaches.

It is extremely sad when someone commits suicide, and such a traumatic loss can have a ripple effect – changing the lives of loved ones, friends and even the community at large.

We have great local support groups for men, such as Andy’s Man Club, which works to break down the stigma around mental health and provide a confidential, non-judgmental space where men can open up about their life.

The Men’s Sheds Association provides local community spaces for men to connect, converse and create in fun ways to help reduce loneliness and isolation.

Devon mental health charity Step One – at – provides mental health support, including a range of free classes, and recently launched a Walk for Wellbeing men.

The Lions Barber Collective trains barbers in suicide prevention and gives them the tools to identify and support clients with mental health issues. You can find a local barber at

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, it’s important to tell someone and get help. You can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or the Devon Partnership NHS Trust First Response Service mental health emergency helpline on 0808 196 8708.

If you’re struggling with a low mood, anxious thoughts, difficulty sleeping, or just not feeling quite like yourself, help is available.

TALKWORKS is a free and confidential NHS talk therapy service, here to help adults over 18, living in Devon, improve their mental and physical wellbeing – visit www.talkworks.dpt.nhs. uk

Treatment and support includes individual sessions with a therapist, group therapy sessions, wellness workshops and access to online self-help.

James shares his experience: “TALKWORKS gave me the tools and strategies to manage anxiety. I want to encourage anyone who might find it difficult to seek help in any aspect of their mental health to make this call – today! »

You can also read more stories of men and the support they received from TALKWORKS at

For more information on the different treatment options and therapy services, please visit the TALKWORKS website or call 0300 555 3344.

Talking is so important and in the spirit of Movember: “Be a man of more words – talk to someone!”

Robert Shelswell, Men’s Health Project Manager

Comments are closed.