Depression is a real problem in Australia and may be affecting some you know. It can affect a range of demographics because it doesn’t discriminate. In Australia, suicide is the leading cause of death in males aged 14 – 44, which is higher than skin cancer and car accidents. So isn’t it time we started talking about men’s health?
A Brisbane based men’s health project called ‘Soften the Fck Up’ has launched the ‘Australia, We Need to Talk’ campaign put together with the Spur Projects (a men’s suicide prevention organisation). The campaign is an attempt to curb the suicide rate amongst males by deconstructing masculinity. It aims to remove the barriers and stigma that may prevent men from opening up about their depression.
Dr Brett Scholz, the Research Manager and Co-founder of Spur Project, holds an undergrad/honours in psychology and a PhD in psychiatry, public health and medicine. Dr Scholz has also lectured at the University of Canberra and published papers in the journal of men’s health. In an interview with Mum’s Lounge columnist, Daniel de Fazio, Dr Scholz described some of the problems facing men about this issue.
In a recent study into men’s health it was found that the news media often positioned women as being responsible for men’s health – not responsible for the cause of depression, of course, but the ones who felt responsible for fixing the problem.
Why this is a problem, Brett says, is that it perpetuates the stereotype that women are the only ones that can solve the issue by making men seem ignorant about their own mental health. This can further place a stigma on masculinity by adding more barriers for men to open up about their depression. Unlike women, who will confront their problems with depression, men tend to avoid the problem altogether. Some men feel that getting help is a culturally feminine experience which will challenge their masculinity, and therefore they [men] will be less likely to seek help themselves.
There is an assumption that men don’t want to talk about depression and stress but through his research Brett found that this is not true. When talking one-on-one, Brett found that men want to open up. Why they don’t can either be from having no one to talk to, people not asking how they are, or not wanting to seem vulnerable and weak. When men do talk, some might feel that they are met with judgment, condescension or too much sympathy. What Dr Scholz recommends is being straight forward when asking questions, and if they [men] do open up, don’t treat it like a problem but use it as an opportunity to ask more questions.
The risk of suicide diminishes with help and support says spurproject.com.au. With 8 out of every 10 suicides being male, Spur Projects found it necessary to confront this issue with projects like “Soften the Fck Up”. Men’s health issues can be solved by getting our fathers, brothers, nephews, uncles and friends to talk about their feelings and to be done with the macho attitude of bottling up their emotions – instead of relying on one group of people to solve the problem, everyone needs to take action.
For more information be sure to visit;
Journal of Men’s Health – Development of Men’s Depressive Symptoms: A Systematic Review of Prospective Cohort Studies
Qualitative Health Research – ”We’ve Got to Break Down the Shame”: Portrayals of Men’s Depression
Have you ever encountered a family member with men’s health concerns? Have you ever been unsure of how to ask the right questions in regards to how someone is feeling?