Home Breaking News Encourage action: Urging Support for Men’s Mental Health

Encourage action: Urging Support for Men’s Mental Health

Why are men pressured to 'man up' and conceal their emotions? Loneliness and depression do not discriminate based on gender and should be addressed equally.

by Jamsheera
Men's mental health

Prolonged loneliness can significantly impact the mental health of men, leading to conditions such as depression or anxiety. In severe instances, exemplified by 56-year-old Chris Haill, the sense of enduring isolation resulting from loneliness can even precipitate suicidal thoughts or actions.

Originally from the UK and residing in Dubai for the last decade, Haill describes himself as a mental health advocate. He openly discusses his journey as a survivor of suicide, shedding light on the various events and experiences that culminated in that critical moment. A central theme in his narrative is the lifelong pattern of self-imposed isolation, which eventually became the pivotal factor.

“I had crafted this image of an outwardly confident man who exuded self-assurance, but internally, I was the complete opposite: insecure, self-critical, and plagued by constant doubts about my worth. I turned to drugs as a coping mechanism, and they carried me through the 90s. By the time the year 2000 arrived, I was deeply entrenched in addiction. My loneliness remained hidden, camouflaged by the drugs.

Upon coming to Dubai, I embraced sobriety and have remained clean for a decade. However, even as things improved at work, I reached a point where I couldn’t believe I deserved the success. Consequently, I lost my business and my business partner, a close friend of 45 years. I ended my marriage because I struggled to communicate my feelings. I never allowed myself to open up to anyone. When you grapple with severe depression, addiction, loneliness, and daily thoughts of suicide, you become adept at acting. I was utterly lost.”

Following his suicide attempt in January 2020, Haill has dedicated himself to inspiring men in his community to #JustReachOut for support.

“I genuinely believe that forging meaningful connections can be a lifeline for men,” he expressed. “The internalization of toxic masculinity inflicts profound mental distress on men. When they perceive a lack of someone to confide in, it becomes isolating. This explains why suicide rates are higher for men across all demographics worldwide.

“By sharing my own journey, I am confident that I’ve saved lives and assisted over 200 men in finding the right support. I don’t want anyone to reach the point I did in 2020. Just reach out, because you don’t have to endure it alone.”

The mental health advocacy platform mentl.space, founded by Scott Armstrong, also strives to destigmatize discussions around mental health and accessing mental health services.

“I lost my father to mental health issues. Despite being a highly successful CEO, he battled depression. He was one of the toughest individuals I knew, but I think that made him very isolated because he couldn’t open up to anybody.

“The stigma surrounding mental health, especially for men and their struggle to communicate, creates a sense of isolation and loneliness. We grow up with phrases like ‘man up’ or ‘deal with it,’” explained Armstrong. “Men are still expected to be providers and carry the financial burden for others. This often leads to insecurity and imposter syndrome when they fall short of society’s expectations and lack a safe space to discuss it.

“So, that was the catalyst for my awareness of mental health – the desire to change the stigma and reshape how we perceive and discuss mental health, along with the associated loneliness and isolation.”

Having resided in Dubai for over 15 years and originally from England, Armstrong highlighted that Dubai is currently among the best places for mental health advocacy and access to services, attributed to recent legislative changes.

“The government has set a clear goal of being one of the happiest places globally. They’ve implemented a new mental health law targeting the destigmatization of mental health in the workplace, which will significantly influence how men perceive and access mental health services. This is poised to be a game changer.”

According to the American Perspectives Survey in May 2021, only 27 percent of men report having six close friends – a figure that is half of what it was 30 years ago. Additionally, 15 percent of men state that they have no close friends at all, marking a 500 percent increase since 1990.

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