It’s that time of year again when men don the fanciest ‘tash they can grow for the one whole month of ‘Movember’ (November) for a really great cause.
Given that suicide has been the biggest killer of men between 20-49 in the U.K. for many years, talking about male mental health and removing the stigma around it is of vital importance.
In order to mark Movember, here are three points to consider that fundamentally challenge the way we view mental health, counselling and manhood as a society:
1: You’ll see that even warriors need to talk (in fact, especially so!)
Many military greats weren’t unfamiliar with the odd majestic moustache themselves. Here’s Senior Officer in the French Army Étienne de Villaret sporting his.
While we are happy to parade the notion of the man as an unemotional warrior, many men are painfully unaware that some true military greats were far more advanced than us in knowing the importance of talking about their internal lives.
Military generals have long known that getting soldiers to talk about their traumatic experiences made them stronger, not weaker.
Did you know that Marcus Aurelius, the legendary Roman philosopher king, did exactly this?
By getting his generals to talk to each other and his soldiers to write about their battlefield experiences, he knew that men fresh from combat could rid themselves of painful memories that, without attention, can fester into all kinds of unpleasant mental health issues.
Marcus Aurelius was fully aware of man’s sensitive nature to harsh experiences, this is something we’ve lost touch with and it’s time that changed.
While most of us are not soldiers nowadays, that doesn’t mean we haven’t witnessed a traumatic experience, been victims of abuse, or don’t suffer from depression or anxiety issues.
Everybody deserves time, attention and space to express their worries, and the good news is that this help is available here and now, whenever you’re ready.
Talking to another person is and always will be the first step to freedom.
2: Acknowledging a problem really does open a path to a new world
Have you ever noticed how every religious and spiritual tradition begins with the protagonist in a state of suffering before enlightenment?
The fundamental truth that the honest acknowledgement and willingness to face one’s difficulties leads to freedom is a cross-cultural human universal.
There’s no reason why this should be any different for you.
This is where the old adage ‘your greatest pain is also your greatest teacher’ stems from.
As opposed to viewing our difficulties with mental health and traumas as damning negatives in our lives, perhaps it’s time we chimed in with the greater tradition of history and saw them as great life challenges that offer us the opportunity to grow, learn and flourish.
What many men find by acknowledging their mental health concerns is that they begin to amass immense higher levels of self-awareness, confidence, empathy and growth.
What’s even more powerful is that by being honest about your internal pain, you also become a beacon for others suffering from similar difficulties, and may well be able to help a friend, colleague or acquaintance in seeking help down the line.
Therefore, by taking that first brave step to talk about your problems this Movember, you really are making the world a better place in the most fundamental way possible.
3: You’ll find out who you really are
The world can be tough. It’s easy to see why so many men are having problems with their mental health, especially when we consider how they tend to find it difficult to talk about feeling down.
This is exactly where so many mental health issues can worsen – in silence.
By speaking out, you shine a light on the areas of your mind that function as the engine room for mental health issues.
You should always remember that you are safe talking to a professional. It is not a place of judgement.
With this in mind, you can begin to really see the veracity of the internal messages you tell yourself.
So much of what we think about ourselves when we’re suffering from a mental health issue is downright (and provably) untrue.
This is why speaking out is so powerful. It allows you to not only see the over-exaggerations and falsehoods you tell yourself about yourself, but it always provides you with the care and space to redefine those internal narratives in a safe environment.
This leads you to find out who you really are, as well as grow into the person you truly want to be.
So let this Movember be one of change for the better for your life and health.