On Friday the 17th of November the Student Union Mental Health workshop was held in Zero’s. The main objective of the afternoons workshop was to host a safe space to discuss men’s mental health and its importance within society. Those who attended the workshop tucked into pastries and coffee and listened to presentations which discussed the work of the Movember organisation before being involved in a mental health debate and other activities throughout the afternoon to discuss men’s mental health.
The Movember organisation was established 20 years ago in 2003 to raise awareness around men’s mental health and help eliminate the stigma surrounding men’s mental health within society. Men are more likely, than woman, to bottle up their mental health struggles which consequently has caused suicide rates among men to exceed that of woman quite significantly. As stated on the Movember website ‘globally, on average, 1 man dies by suicide every minute of every day’. Movemeber as an organisation not only look to raise funds to carry out research and provide support to those struggling, but also to simply raise awareness, spark discussion and normalise men’s mental health within society today.
Many men feel as though showing emotion and talking about their own personal mental struggles is a sign of weakness and displays a lack of masculinity and this idea was a focus of the debate held within the Mental Health Workshop. Participants at the workshop were provided with agree or disagree statements surrounding mental health. This exercise was a good icebreaker as it got initial discussions in motion and even saw some members speaking out to justify their chosen answers to the group.
Following this activity, the group were engaged in several PowerPoint presentations which highlighted issues surrounding, suicide, cancer, research, funding and other areas tackled by the Movember organisation.
The group were then issued with engaging activities to complete individually which helped each group member to consider what mental health meant to them. Whilst it is important to speak out wit others around the topic of men’s mental health it is equally important to ask ourselves some personal questions.
During the workshop, 5 questions were issued to participants to fill out anonymously in as much or as little detail. With Movemeber still ongoing, it is important that we consider similar questions I order to further help our own personal mental health as well as the mental health of those around us.
Why is it important to talk about Mental Health?
We all love to chit chat, so why not put this chat to good use. We must talk about mental health and here are some reasons why as shared by the group…
- Breaking the stigma that still exists within society.
- It can help to get your feelings off your chest.
- It can offer tips and advice to those who are struggling and maybe are hesitant to speak out themselves.
- It can help people realise that they are not the only person struggling and therefore are not alone.
- Mental Health is like Physical Health, and we need to care for ourselves, and speaking out can help support this.
How do you improve your own mood when you are feeling down?
Looking after your own personal mental health is arguably more important than those around you, and the group agreed that playing sports and staying active and speaking to and meeting with friends are some of the best ways to keep mental health issues to a minimum. Some additional suggestions were…
- Watching Tv
- Eating Good Food
- Watching Feel Good Films
- Going to the Gym
- Treating yourself to a Lazy Day (a day full of relaxation and no stressful work)
Do you think Heriot-Watt promotes Mental Health support enough?
How good is Heriot-Watt currently doing in promoting mental health support availability on campus? These questions created the most divide in answers among all the questions. Some feel as though Heriot-Watt is doing enough in providing opportunity and marketing this support, whilst others feel it could be better.
One response highlighted the excellent video by Chris Sellar who talks about men’s mental health. The video can be found on the Heriot-Watt Student Union Instagram page. If you haven’t yet given it a watch it is well worth it. The video can be accessed here:
How can others around you support you during difficult times?
Friends and family are hugely important when we talk about mental health. Dealing with mental health is tricky but by having supportive peers that have your back, it makes it that little bit easier. The group were in agreement that simply by offering your support and checking in on someone can be enough to satisfy someone who is strggling. You could also…
- Ask someone to go for a coffee with you
- Ask someone out for a walk
- Make food for someone
- Sit down and have a good old fashioned face-to-face chit chat to ask how they are getting on
Why do you think men are more reluctant to speak out about their Mental Health?
Men are more stubborn when it comes to mental health, and that’s a fact. But why exactly? Everyone agreed that men are in fact more reluctant than woman to speak out about mental health and many suggestions as to why were given, such as…
- Men are reluctant to talk to other men about their ow problems.
- Many men do not know how to effectively support someone who is struggling if they are approached.
- Early education is not effective in highlighting the importance of men speaking out about mental health issues.
However, the main reason was that the group believe that men are still viewed as weak, vulnerable and ‘not strong’ if they come out and speak about their mental health struggles. This stigma still exists to this day, despite improvements, we can do more, and we must continue to do more. As a society we can still make small changes to remove this stigma from our lives.
It is crucial that we continue to raise awareness about men’s mental health to remove stigma and help lower suicide rates among men.
Thanks again to all those who hosted this excellent event, along with those that came along and got involved in all the afternoon’s activities. It would be great to see even more people attending future Movember awareness events.