This year’s Men’s Health Week coincided with limited easing of the lockdown restrictions which have been in Wales since March. As we emerge from lockdown, many are calling for male mental health to be prioritised – and that’s not a moment too soon, says life coach Jason Bishop.
Men are twice as likely to die from COVID-19, but that’s not the only pressure that men have faced during the pandemic, whether it’s the mental stress of being with family 24/7, restricted incomes due to furlough or job loss, or trying to juggle home working with childcare and even new teaching responsibilities. The pandemic and lockdown has been challenging for both men and women – but men are already at the greatest risk. Just take a look at the statistics from Men’s Health Forum:
- Over three out of four suicides (76%) are by men
- Suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35
- Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent
- Men are more likely to use (and die from) illegal drugs
- Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women.
Jason Bishop, a South Wales life coach who works exclusively with men aged 25-35, says:
“The added pressures of lockdown have been stressful for both sexes, but men and women handle stress differently. Women tend to pick up the phone and natter to their pals, putting the world to rights. Men are taught to ‘be strong’, to ‘man up’ and our phone calls with other men tend to be short and functional, and conversations about our worries often don’t indicate how serious the issue is. Indeed, over half of men would prefer to talk about their health with their barber than with their doctor.
“With pubs, barbers and gyms closed during lockdown, many of the outlets which allow men to even superficially share their burdens with other men have been unavailable. This is concerning. However, the positive thing is that lockdown has given men time to reflect and realise that living with stress, unhappiness and frustration simply isn’t working for them. We need to let them know that their mental health matters, that lives can change and help is available.”
Working with a support group called Andy’s Man Club in Cardiff, as well as being a one on one life coach, Jason works with men, giving them the tools, support and advice to move through their stress to create a more abundant, happy life – and hopes that his work on and offline will help more men to discover that there is another approach. He says:
“In my own life, it took me hitting rock bottom, falling into alcohol addiction and nearly dying before finally admitting I needed to look at my mental health. I’d struggled with anger and grief for years – coming back from the precipice, I learned new skills and tools to help me change my outlook, reduce stress and actively create the abundant life that had always eluded me. Now I share those tools with other men, helping them set goals, transform relationships (with partners, employers and habits) and create a life and a career that works for them.”
“Men’s Health Week will hopefully remind men that they are important too. If they don’t want to go back to their pre-lockdown life, they don’t have to. Every man deserves to be in a career that supports them mentally as well as financially, and to live a life that is about their health and happiness, not just their responsibilities, although sometimes it is also about changing your mindset and core beliefs. Life coaching offers a safe way to explore possibilities for change, and support to make those changes in a positive way.”
To learn more about Men’s Health Week, visit: https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/