A reflection on Men’s Mental Health Month

In November, we focused on men’s mental health. The statistics on the subject are overwhelming:

• Just over three out of four suicides (76%) are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35

• 12.5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders

• Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women

One thing above all stands out: men are less likely to seek help than women when it comes to mental health, which means any statistics or diagnosis will be grossly underreported. Despite the massive progress we’ve seen in recent years with the acceptance of mental health, there is still such stigma particularly amongst the male population. Avoidance and denial runs deep with phrases like ‘man up’ and ‘growing a pair’ being used as the solution, rather than showing vulnerability, opening up and accepting to seek help, it’s no surprise that more and more men each year are taking their own lives.

With Covid-19 having applying even more pressure across the world we feel that men now more than ever we need to be open, honest and vulnerable when it comes to our mental health and seeking help where needed. Here at Lamp we are honored to share a brave and inspirational story on men’s mental health:

Jaimal, a Relationship Manager at Barclay’s shared with us his experience: “Lockdown really affected me. I’m normally a strong-minded person and have never been phased until recently. We started to work from home in March and I’m a very social person, so it felt that my freedom was taken away. I’m a Leicester City fan and go to matches home and away, that’s my escapism, but I had lost that too. “I’ve been on a health kick but couldn’t go to the gym anymore. And then in my work, I’m responsible for 250 to 300 clients, who are businesses trying to get through Covid. It was a daily pressure to get things done for them and something in the back of my mind started to grow and grow. I was starting to take the pressure on our clients personally. They were saying things like ‘how am I going to pay my staff?’.

“So by May, I was probably only getting two to three hours sleep a night. I couldn’t switch off. Whatever I could control, I was controlling but there was so much out of my control. The process for dealing with the clients was at times prolonged and I was getting a lot of pressure from my clients. “I started getting snappy with my wife, about little things that never used to annoy me. Everything was building up. Then on 28th May I just snapped at my wife, and I couldn’t breathe. I slept one hour that night. I was having to lean out the window to get some air, I couldn’t breathe.”

On May 29, Jaimal called his manager, Amit Sonpal. “I called him at 7am in the morning, and I was in tears,” he said. “That brought it to life. I knew something was wrong here. “But as soon as I spoke to him, I went from 100 per cent to 50 per cent in terms of the pressure I was feeling. It was like a big weight lifting off me. I just told him how I felt.

“My manager really helped me out, and I was signed off work. I then spoke to a counsellor who said I needed to change the way I was doing things. I had been getting up and getting straight to work, exercising and have a shower at the end of the day. I felt that if I sat still and did nothing I was going to die. The counsellor said ‘Jay, you need to get back to a normal routine’. Exercise and shower at the start of the day. Say bye to the kids in the morning as if you were commuting to work. Take breaks.”

Jaimal said his wife, has been incredibly supportive throughout his illness. And two friends also recognised that Jaimal was suffering and reached out.

“There was one friend who literally within three hours of me telling him what I was going through, came round with some food,” said Jaimal.

“And there was a Barclays client who had had a similar issue and every day he would ring me to find out how I was getting on.” Jaimal changed his routine, with exercise and a shower in the morning, meditation when he woke up and then meditation in the evening before bedtime. He turned off his mobile at 9.30pm and began using an app, called Calm, that gives out soothing messages and pieces of advice. After four weeks on sick leave, Jaimal is back at work, in a more positive frame of mind and now hopes his story will inspire others to seek help, and support the ‘Talk’ campaign. “The message on the T-shirts really spoke to me,” said Jaimal.

“Around the word ‘Talk’ are words like ‘stress’ and ‘scared’. That was me. If I hadn’t have talked to someone, it would have got worse, no question. I hate to imagine it.

“I think the campaign is phenomenal. I can’t put into words how amazing this campaign is. My message to anyone who is going through it, is to talk to someone. And if you want to support people with mental health problems, definitely buy one of the ’Talk’ T-shirts.’ To find out more and buy a Talk T-shirt, visit www.thefunkacademy.co

We’d also like to take a moment to say this piece is also in celebration of Joe Benyon, who’s family fund our widely distributed support cards.

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