When you think about The LAD bible what immediately pops into your mind?
Whatever just appeared in your head it probably wasn’t a campaign which encourages more open discussion and greater awareness of male mental health. However, LAD bible is working with major charities Mind, the Samaritans, CALM (Campaign against Living Miserably) and the Mental Health Foundation on the ‘U OK M8?’ campaign; a series of articles, films and illustrations designed to spark conversation about this prevalent issue. Through these mediums, issues such as male body image, male students dealing with disabilities whilst studying, and alcoholism have been discussed in terms of the negative impact they have on the mental health of men in our society.
The mental health of men in the UK is an important issue which is not discussed as often or as seriously as it should. In 2014 male suicide accounted for 76% of all suicides, and constitutes the single biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45 in the UK. The ‘U OK M8?’ campaign highlights the fact that 41% of men who contemplated suicide had never actually physically voiced those feelings to anyone.
That is a shocking statistic, and a scary realisation that in our society so many men for various reasons didn’t feel they could talk to anyone. CALM, one of the key partners of the campaign, exists to prevent male suicide. They believe that if men felt able to ask for help, and could find that help easily, then hundreds of male suicides could, and would, be prevented. That is what the ‘U OK M8?’ campaign is trying to change. It wants to break down the barriers which prevent men from seeking the help they need.
We can facilitate the breaking down of these barriers every day. We can achieve this through opening up about our individual experiences concerning mental health and challenging the stigma around seeking help in times of mental vulnerability. Let’s start the conversation that leads to the normalisation of looking after your mental health in the same way that you care about your physical health.
People go for a run or a swim when they are feeling a bit unfit so why is it different to go for advice when you’re feeling run down emotionally? To ask for support doesn’t de-masculinise someone, instead it makes you stronger and men need to know that. Gender shouldn’t be the determining factor of whether you feel able to get the help that we all need from time to time.
Whilst living at University there are multiple services on campus readily available to those who need help starting the important conversation about male mental health. If you need to have the conversation in a safe and confidential environment then services such as the Student Counselling Service and the Student Advice Centre are there to listen and support you. But if you feel confident then start the dialogue with your loved ones around you and you’ll find heaps of support is already waiting there.
(Photo credit: http://www.theladbible.com/mental-health/inspirational-its-time-to-talk-mental-health-welcome-to-u-ok-m8-20160912)