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. So we’re asking.

In the UK, one man in five dies before the age of 65. If we had health policies and services that better reflected the needs of the whole population, it might not be like that. But it is. Policies and services and indeed men have been like this for a long time and they don’t change overnight just because we want them to.

It’s true that the UK’s men don’t have it bad compared to some other groups. We’re not asking you to ‘feel sorry’ for men or put them first. We’re talking here about something more complicated, something that falls outside the traditional charity fund-raising model of ‘doing something for those less fortunate than ourselves’. That model raises money but it seldom changes much. We’re talking about changing the way we look at the world. There is nothing inevitable about premature male death. Services accessible to all, a population better informed. These would benefit everyone - rich and poor, young and old, male and female - and that’s what we’re campaigning for.

We’re not asking you to look at images of pity, we’re just asking you to look around at the society you live in, at the men you know and at the families with sons, fathers and grandads missing.

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