"The seismic shift here is that talking and being more open is seen less as a sign of weakness among men but more as simply being honest."
Russ Kane, Founder of Men's Radio
New Year – New You! Hit the Gym in 2020!
These are the headlines that the media relentlessly bombard us with. It’s lazy, cliché-ridden journalism. What is missing from the exhortations to become ripped and ‘hench’ is any mention of improving one’s mental health. It is a glaring omission. Mental health is one of the biggest issues facing today’s society. The suicide statistics make frightening reading, with 80% being male compared to 20% female – a vast chasm of difference. It gets worse. Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. A staggering and disturbing statistic. One of the root causes is that men simply don’t talk, preferring instead to ‘bottle it up’, with sometimes disastrous consequences. Women, in contrast, are far more comfortable discussing deep-rooted issues with their close friends.
So, what can be done in the new decade – optimistically-termed the Roaring Twenties? What progress do I envisage?
Firstly, men are being encouraged to communicate. Terms such as ‘man up’, ‘grow a pair’. ‘real men don’t cry’ will eventually be consigned to history as was ‘one for the road’. The seismic shift here is that talking and being more open is seen less as a sign of weakness among men but more as simply being honest.
Second, mental health in the workplace is a major change towards how employees are treated by management. There is a concerted effort to treat mental health with the same gravity as any other medical condition or health and safety issue. First aid kits and fire extinguishers exist in every office and factory. It will take time, but the mental well-being of employees will be taken as seriously.
Third, have a digital detox. Social media can be a wonderful communication tool, keeping you in touch with family and close friends. Equally, it can exert a deeply disturbing negative effect, as people strive to emulate the ‘perfect lives’ that they see on-line. Digital life is not real life. Don’t fall down the bottomless rabbit hole – real life is far too short and precious to waste.
Fourth, don’t ‘catastrophise’. Considerable research has demonstrated that 95% of the ‘disasters’ that you imagine will befall you as you lie awake at 4am will never, ever happen.
Finally, the motto by which I live – ‘Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff’. It’s just not worth it.
2020 marks a new decade of understanding, progress and help. It is out there – you just need to be open and look for it.
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