November is Men’s Mental Health Awareness month in the UK with people getting involved in activities and events such as “Movember” where men grow moustaches and aren’t allowed to shave for 30 days.

At ANTA Education in Shifnal we have been delivering mental health awareness training to job seekers as part of our ESF Community Grant project since the start of the pandemic. Working with over 100 learners so far we can see that there’s a clear disparity in the amount of men who actively talk about mental health. As men our natural state is to bottle things up without talking about how we feel. I’m pleased to say that more and more men are becoming open to the subject but we’re still not doing enough to address our mental health and stop stress, anxiety and depression affecting our lives.

As someone who is open about my battles with mental health I’m happy to share some tips for those who can’t talk about how they feel. It sounds straight forward but trying to find an outlet for your emotions is a great way of releasing stress. Sometimes its helpful to write a list of all of the things that you’re worried about. These can be as small as your daily routine or work, to major worries such as health, money, or life in general. Everyone’s worries are important to them, there’s no scale or balance to say that your worries are any less important than anyone else’s.

When you write a list of your worries it enables you to see them as weights that you’re carrying, and it can give you a clearer picture of those worries. It will give you an understanding of what your mind’s carrying so that you can prioritise those that you can control. When we deal with the worries that we can control over those that we can’t, it can lighten the load, helping you relax and stay calm when dealing with those issues that you may perceive as bigger.

Talking to someone is always a great outlet, however hard that may be. Charities like Mind and the Samaritans offer fantastic support and resources, along with amazing people to lend an ear when you need it. But never be afraid to ask for help, sadly there’s still some mental health stigma out there, but there’s a lot less than there used to be.  The term “man up” should be used for those who can address their problems, not for those that ignore them and bottle things up.

National awareness campaigns are always a good time to start these conversations, but we need to keep them going through the year. Everyone’s mental health matters, if you’re reading this that includes you too! Never forget that!

Let’s keep the learning about mental health, keep talking about it and if you see a male friend, colleague or member of the family that sporting new facial hair for the month, make sure you give him a pat on the back, because they’re making a difference.

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