Get on the ball about mental health

How to help a mate who is dealing with depression, anxiety or other mental health problem.

Every year, one in four of us faces a mental health problem. That means the odds are 3/1 that at least one player on every five-a-side team is wrestling with a mental health problem right now. Or in every bus queue, at every tea-break or in every boy band. 

Feeling miserable or pissed off puts you off your game. A mental health problem also:

  • reduces life-expectancy 
  • increases your chance of serious physical health problems 
  • damages your sex life. 

How do you know if you or someone you know has a mental health problem? You can’t tell by looking. 

But we can kick mental health problems into touch just by not ignoring them.

What if a mate has a problem?

Don’t judge. Because we don’t really understand mental health problems, sometimes we shy away from people who have them. We pretend we’re different, that these things won’t affect us. But they do. One person in four means that mental health problems are very common. They hit people just like us. In fact, they can hit you or me. 

By being around for someone with a mental health problem, you’re being a mate when they need you most. If you think a mate is bottling something up, there’s a simple way to make a difference: 

Do something together

Car, computer, exercise, garden, walk - even housework. Get him to give you a hand. Feeling wanted makes us all feel better. You don’t have to talk but if you want to, doing something together makes it easier. 

Keep it real: take it seriously but don’t make it a big deal. Ask him how it’s going. Simple. You don’t need to be an expert, you just need ears.

Here are our top tips for making a difference: How to be a mate

Spot the warning signs
  • tired or problems sleeping 
  • thinking people are trying to harm you or are laughing at you 
  • losing interest in work, sex, eating or anything you normally enjoy 
  • self-harm or addiction. 

Watch out for extremes compared to typical behaviour. This includes mood swings or being unusually angry or aggressive, having no energy or way too much energy, wanting to be alone more and more or wanting to go out more and more or refuelling too much with drink or drugs.

It can happen to anyone. You included.

If you’re worried you’re missing out on life because you’re feeling crap, talk about it. Talk to family, friends, a helpline or other professionals. It doesn’t have to be someone you know. 

The Men’s Health Forum need your support

It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. Especially during a major pandemic like Covid-19. So we’re asking.

Men appear more likely to get Covid-19 and far, far more likely to die from it. The Men's Health Forum are working hard pushing for more action on this from government, from health professionals and from all of us. Why are men more affected and what can we do about it? We need the data. We need the research. We need the action. Currently we're the only UK charity doing this - please help us.

Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.