- November 19, 2020
- Posted by: Charlotte Rodrigues
- Category: News
Males and females are different in many ways, but have we ever considered how different, when it comes to talking about our health?
Men account for less than 1/3 of referrals to health services for mental health yet account for more than 2/3 of suicides.
Essentially the way men talk about their mental health is different to the way that women might.
Let’s look at the what the statistics say:
- Less than 1 in 5 men would take time off work to seek support for mental health problems yet, would seek support for physical health issues.
- 34% also said they would be embarrassed to take time off for a mental health issue.
- Men make up 87% of rough sleepers.
- 73% of adults who ‘go missing’ are men.
The above suggests then that men may feel uncomfortable or cover up their need for help. This is also supported by research that states issues in males can be under-diagnosed due to the language they use when describing what the issues are.
If you were asked to describe your mental health, what words would you use?
Language is so important, and when we put things into words it gives up the opportunity to open up and engage fully.
So, let us consider how conversations, including the language we use, can improve how we go about identifying mental wellbeing.
Watch your language
Studies have shown that phrases such as stressed, stressed out (being the tipping point of stress), depressed and overwhelmed are some of the most regularly used terms by men, when describing deteriorating mental health.
Don’t try to look for buzz words when you are checking in on your friends, instead encourage them to speak. If these terms come up in conversation, make a point to double check with that person whether they are ok.
Speak their language
People may be on the back foot when asking “how are you?” so consider relating it to exactly what you want to know, for example:
“You don’t seem your usual self?”
“You’re a bit quiet today?”
“Haven’t seen you share any of your walking photos online recently- you still going?”
One size does not fit all – Stressed or Stressed out?
One man’s ‘stressed’ is another man’s ‘stressed out’ and that is okay. ‘Stressed out’ is generally thought to be a tipping point or maximal volume, whereas ‘stress’ can be something that comes and goes, potentially building. We all have different tolerances to things so ‘stressed’ may be something you brush off as trivial but to someone else this could be their tipping point.
Actions can speak louder than words
It is important to consider not just the language expressed but also consider body language and behaviour of that individual. If your friend/colleague seems off, this may tell you more about how they are truly feeling.
When asked if they are okay, most people will reply that they are, even when they are not, as a natural polite response in conversation. Ask again to reinforce that you are asking specifically how they are feeling, not just exchanging pleasantries.
For more information men’s health you can check out: https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/male-health