As we look forward to Father’s Day this weekend, Matt Dawkin, psychotherapist at The Retreat examines the impact of the current pandemic on men’s mental health and outlines some top tips you can do to help

Top tips

If you are feeling lonely and want to speak to a friend or family member then get in touch with them. They are probably thinking the same as you so don’t wait for them to call or text you. Or try joining a club

Keep active

Do something you are good at

Ask for help and support. Speak to your GP if you don’t know where to turn

Try doing something new. Einstein’s definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

It’s well documented that around 75% of suicides in the UK in 2018 were men and this statistic hasn’t’ changed since the mid 1990’s.

Males aged around 45 to 49 had the highest age-specific suicide rate with risk factors that include:

Being single
Recent relationship breakdown
Financial difficulties
Employment
Limited support structures such as friends and family
Not necessarily involved in mental health services


There are many reasons why, for these men, suicide might appear to be the only option a nd these include:

Communication – it sounds simple to say but women tend to share their issues and men don’t.

Stigma – The idea of a man struggling goes against some of these unwritten rules of society and therefore some men don’t want to admit that they are struggling.

Emotions – Sometimes when men do access support it can resonate some strong emotions such as embarrassment, worry and shame.

Coping

Alcohol – Men are twice as likely as women to meet criteria for alcohol dependence and alcohol is a nature depressant. So if men are self-medicating through this method then persistent low mood and increased impulsive behaviours can occur.

Isolation – Building support structures is and having people around you to talk to is a great resource.

During lockdown I was working with some men and, although not all was associated with lockdown, we were beginning to see an impact with people worrying about risk and not being comfortable with telephone appointments and internet-based calls,

I’ve been speaking with male friends and colleagues and some of things they reported were:

Was really excited at the start due to spending time at home, working from home, but noticed how easy it was to not bother with self-care

Working from home is a challenge if you don’t have the office space

Trying to establish a new routine was a challenge

Missed going to the pub on a Friday night or just pop in fort a quick one

Missed seeing and speaking with friends as zoom type conversations were a challenge and gave up after one session

Missed hugging family, for example mother as this person’s mother was a tactile person and when she was upset found this difficult as didn’t live together

Some single friends sometimes going for a long time without speaking to anyone or seeing anyone apart from shop assistants

Some older generations found it difficult to find time for themselves as they could on extra care responsibilities such as looking after parents and doing their shopping because they were shielding