Men’s mental health is a serious concern in Australia. One in eight men will experience depression in their lifetime and one in five will experience an anxiety condition. Death by suicide is three times more likely in men than in women and it’s the leading cause of death for Australian men aged between 15 and 44.
It’s important to know that if you’re struggling with your mental health, help is available - you don’t have to get through it alone.
While everyone is different, there are some situations that can negatively impact men’s mental health. These can include:
- family or relationship breakdowns
- work related stress
- job loss or retirement
- money problems
- partner’s pregnancy and the birth of a baby
- drug and alcohol use
- loneliness and social isolation
Loneliness is a feeling of social isolation and it can be different for everyone. It’s possible to feel lonely when you have many people around you. Loneliness has a significant impact on the chances of experiencing a mental health problem. Research shows that men experience higher levels of loneliness than women. This could be because women tend to have more social support than men.
Not seeking help
While men experience mental health problems at similar rates to women, they’re much less likely to get help. This could be because some men struggle with expressing their emotions and feel pressure to be self-reliant. Stereotypes of heroic men found in popular culture can reinforce this behaviour. To find out more, read mental health and stigma.
Symptoms of mental health problems
The symptoms of mental health problems can be different for everyone and vary depending on the mental health condition.
Some of the common symptoms include:
- anxiety, worry, and fear
- depression and sadness
- irritability and anger
- increase or decrease in sleep
- increase or decrease in appetite and weight
- not looking after personal hygiene
- not performing as well at school or work
As some men struggle with expressing their emotions, they may try to cope with negative feelings by changing their behaviour.
Some of the behavioural signs to watch out for can include:
- withdrawing from family and friends
- working longer hours
- spending more time away from home
- alcohol or substance abuse
- reckless or violent behaviour
This can lead to some men feeling an even greater sense of isolation and relationship problems such as difficulty resolving conflicts or expressing intimacy.
Ways to improve your mental heath
If you feel like you’re experiencing a mental health problem, here are some ways you can try to manage it.
- Build positive relationships - spending time with your friends, family or work colleagues can help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. You could also try joining a Men’s Shed, local club or volunteering.
- Eat healthy – a balanced diet can help you manage your energy levels and make sure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. For more information, read the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.
- Get plenty of sleep – a good night’s sleep can reduce your risk of developing mental illness. For help on getting a good rest, read our tips for getting a good night’s sleep.
- Resolve personal or relationship conflicts - try to communicate openly and honestly to resolve any problems you’re having with the people in your life, you can also try relationship counselling.
- Do things you enjoy – It’s important to leave time for the things you enjoy in your life, whether it’s socialising with friends, being creative, or reading or gardening.
- Exercise - regular moderate physical activity is one of the best ways to boost your mood. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise on most days of the week.
- Remember to relax – breathing, muscle relaxation techniques and meditation can help you manage your stress levels.
When to get help
If your mental health is starting to impact your work, home or school life, or if you feel like you can’t manage it alone, it’s time to seek help.
Where to get help
Get help now
If you or someone close to you needs help now, there are phonelines and websites available.
For immediate help in a crisis:
For general mental health support:
Seeing your GP
If you have concerns about your stress levels, it’s best to see your GP.
When you see your GP, they can:
- assess your mental health
- prescribe some medications for anxiety or depression
- refer you to a mental health professional if necessary
- refer you to other support services
They can also put you on a mental health plan, and this means Medicare may help pay for up to 10 sessions with a mental health professional. You can learn more about the different types of mental health professionals at Healthdirect Australia.
Other support services for men
Australian Men’s Shed
The modern Men’s Shed is an updated version of the shed in the backyard that has long been a part of Australian culture. They are community-based and non-profit and help create a friendly environment where men can work on meaningful projects at their own pace. They encourage the wellbeing and mental health of all men.
To see if there’s a shed near you, use their Find a Shed search tool.
Man Therapy is a Beyond Blue initiative that can help men understand and respond to their depression. It’s a toolkit that can give you strategies and guidance on how to approach and cope with depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
Dad’s in Distress
Dad’s in Distress is a support service for dad’s who are experiencing depression. They can provide support phone, email, online forums or live chat. They also have a list of support groups around Australia.
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.