Men: Speak up when you’re down!

Movember is the time we highlight issues that are taking the lives of men in our

communities too early – one of the biggest priorities is suicide prevention and improving the mental health of men of all ages. Mental health includes post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and many more. Many of these conditions increase the risk of suicide if not managed appropriately. 3 out of every 4 suicides in Australia are by men. On a world scale, this equates to 1 man dying by suicide every minute of every day. These are the sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers in our communities, and they need your help. These statistics are simply unacceptable and highlight the desperate need we have for strategies to help men suffering with mental health disorders – including raising awareness about community, social, and therapy interventions that are there ready to help.


How can I help?

We need to change the culture about toughness and stoicism in Australia when it’s in

reference to speaking up when something is wrong. Boys and men of all ages need to be encouraged to tell their families and friends when they’re feeling down, not coping at work or school, so that we can provide tools for addressing this before it escalates into bigger problems. This starts with you – right now. Ask a mate if they’re okay, reach out, and remind people you care about that you’re always there to listen. If you’re reading this and you are struggling or feeling down, there is help available. Call a friend or speak to the helpful folk at Lifeline on 13 11 14. There is a way forward.


Can exercise help?

Regular exercise has an incredible capacity to help reduce symptoms of mental health

conditions like anxiety, depression, and low mood. It works by affecting the chemicals that impact our emotions, improving our self-esteem and self-worth, and enhancing our cognitive function. It also helps that exercise often develops into a social environment, which can be anything from a social soccer club to senior’s dance lessons – there’s something for everyone! Exercise improves our sleep, reduces stress, and helps us have more energy. These are all powerful combatants against worsening mental health. Research indicates that a single session of aerobic exercise (like jogging, cycling, or swimming) can provide a reduction in anxiety and depressive symptoms 1 ! Ideally this should be a 15 to 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise and should be repeated a minimum of 3 times per week. Better yet, there’s some great evidence that says moderate-vigorous intensity had a larger benefit, especially under supervision of an exercise specialist 2 . Have a go at some intervals like jogging up a hill for 30 seconds, and resting for the time it takes you to walk back down – 4 rounds of that and you should be experiencing heightened levels of endorphins (those stress-relieving, pain-killing euphoric chemicals in our brain), and it took less than 5 minutes of your day!


If you’re unsure where to start or would like a smiling face and a helping hand – your EHA Exercise Physiologist knows just how to make you feel comfortable getting started on this journey.


Suicide and mental health conditions are a very real threat to the people we care about, and we all have a role to play in addressing it. It is hard to speak up, but just a few more words can be the start of brighter future. This November - be a man of more words. For you. For them. Speak up when you’re down!


To speak with someone immediately, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.


If you're ever worried that someone's life is in immediate danger, call 000 or go directly to emergency services.


References:

  1. Guszkowska, M. (2004). [Effects of exercise on anxiety, depression and mood]. Psychiatria Polska, 38(4), 611–620.

  2. Stubbs, B., Vancampfort, D., Hallgren, M., Firth, J., Veronese, N., Solmi, M., Brand, S., Cordes, J., Malchow, B., Gerber, M., Schmitt, A., Correll, C. U., De Hert, M., Gaughran, F., Schneider, F., Kinnafick, F., Falkai, P., Möller, H.-J., & Kahl, K. G. (2018). EPA guidance on physical activity as a treatment for severe mental illness: A meta-review of the evidence and Position Statement from the European Psychiatric Association (EPA), supported by the International Organization of Physical Therapists in Mental Health (IOPTMH). European Psychiatry, 54, 124–144. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eurpsy.2018.07.004

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