It is crucial for men to remain connected to their close network of family and friends, particularly during the pandemic.
That is the core message for Men’s Health Week, led by Western Sydney University.
Men’s Health Week, which kicks off on Monday 14 June, will raise awareness for the mental wellbeing of men and boys by encouraging them to maintain the connections in their lives.
“Family is the core foundation of somebody’s wellbeing,” Dr Neil Hall, the director of Western Sydney University’s Centre for Male Health, told Hope 103.2.
“Supporting men to achieve good health is something we can all work towards – a simple conversation between friends can be the start of something positive, so we’re encouraging everyone to get involved.”
“Supporting men to achieve good health is something we can all work towards,” – Dr Neil Hall, director of Western Sydney University’s Centre for Male Health
The message comes at a time when Australian men have lost some of their everyday social connections, whether it be through unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic, or by working from home.
“Those forms of connections promote better mental health,” Dr Hall said. “Work, sports, pubs, places of worship – they were all affected through lockdowns and social distancing. So, there’s something about that loss of connection.”
The effect was clear for researchers. During the pandemic last year, calls to crisis helplines increased, according to Dr Hall, who is a senior lecturer in social work at Western Sydney University.
“Work, sports, pubs, places of worship – they were all affected through lockdowns and social distancing,” – Dr Neil Hall, director of Western Sydney University’s Centre for Male Health
“Our research has found that young men are starting to seek help and advice more freely but more needs to be done to support all men to reach out for help when they need it,” he said.
“And male suicides – as big as they already are – increased as well. So [the pandemic] was definitely a factor in people’s mental health.”
Men’s Health Week also focuses on the mental health of teens and adolescent males. But Dr Hall has found that youths are already mindful of their wellbeing.
“Young people have rated the two most concerning issues for them in current times as mental health and the environment,” he said.
“So those things are constantly at the front of young people’s minds. Research that we’ve done has shown us that with 16-year-old boys, 60 per cent of them are not uncomfortable talking about their feelings to somebody.”
It runs contrary to the stereotype of adolescents keeping their feelings bottled.
“Young people are much more likely to engage in addressing their feelings,” – Dr Neil Hall, director of Western Sydney University’s Centre for Male Health
“We could probably say there’s some generational shift happening,” Dr Hall said. “Young people are much more likely to engage in addressing their feelings.”
And it is just as crucial for men.
“You know it’s about connecting with family, connecting with community and connecting with culture,” Dr Hall said. “And connecting with support services is really important.”
- If you or someone you know is struggling or needs a compassionate listening person to talk to, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Australia’s Suicide Callback Service, on 1300 659 467.
- Head over to our Helpful Counselling and Community Services page for more professional and community support
Feature image: Western Sydney University – Men’s Health Information & Resource Centre’s Facebook