It can often feel difficult or uncomfortable to talk about feelings and mental well-being with friends or family, and generally speaking, men are the least likely group to do this.
This is often due to the idea that a man should be tough or have a thick skin. Men are expected to “suck it up” and “knuckle under” and in reality, phrases like “man up” are thrown around far too much- and sometimes with seriously negative effects on a person’s mental health.
Although every individual is capable of suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety or depression; societal gender roles and stereotypes can often mean that men are less likely than women to seek support from a loved one or a friend. These feelings can be especially prevalent during the transition into university in which time we can all feel a little lost and down.
The feeling of isolation is very real for many men. Every man should know that speaking to a friend does not imply weakness or the inability to look after yourself but actually a strength and honesty that should be valued. According to mentalhealth.org, “suicide represents the largest cause of death for men under 50,” and states that 75% of suicides in the UK were men. This could be a result of men not feeling able to convey their thoughts to others or feelings that speaking about mental health makes you seem weaker. We must get past this stigma in our society- It is OK to talk about your feelings!
Speaking to friends about any mental health problems while at university is extremely important. They can help you get your thoughts in order and it can help to vocalise what you are going through and hear a sympathetic answer. Your friends can also give you suggestions of how to get help and where to go.
It can feel awkward to speak to friends about deeply personal issues but there are ways to approach the subject in which communicating feelings can be easier. Honesty about a subject should be priority but there are no rules on how much you must tell them, feel free to leave bits out that you aren’t comfortable vocalising yet. You never know the friend or family member you chat to could be going through a similar pain and talking to them could have a profound effect on how you BOTH feel.
It is important that men check up on their mates too! This could involve asking them to go for a coffee and having a chat about how university is going or simply a message over social media. Remember to ask if they are ok, then ask again. Asking twice may give them the courage and help them feel comfortable to speak up about their feelings.
The University of Lincoln has a multiple channels to give assistance to those suffering mental health problems including:
- Student wellbeing services: offers regular drop ins (including a wellbeing workshop) and online links to help services for; emotional support, mindfulness, trauma, homesickness, body image and many more.
- Multi-faith chaplaincy (including those without faith) at University of Lincoln: https://chaplaincy.lincoln.ac.uk/
- Student Support centre: https://studentservices.lincoln.ac.uk/student-support-home/
Other options outside of the University of Lincoln:
- CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) is a charity for men aged 15 to 35 which offers online and over the phone support: https://www.thecalmzone.net/
- The Men’s Health forum offers text, chat and email support: https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/beatstress.uk
- Samaritans: anonymous and free for those in crisis or those who simply need to talk to someone, call 116 123, open 24/7.