NOTICED a friend who’s not sleeping, a colleague who’s lost interest or a man in your family who’s more irritable than normal?
Chances are, one of the men close to you is struggling with their mental health right now.
It’s not uncommon for men to keep quiet when they’re feeling low.
Almost half of 18 to 34-year-old men in the UK admitted they’re reluctant to talk about their problems or feelings for fear of being seen as less masculine, according to new research from Movember.
The signs that someone is struggling can be subtle – but recognising them could be life-saving.
So, has your group chat king gone quiet? Does Mr Laidback seem a bit on edge? Is the party animal just not feeling it? Did the sporty one miss a session?
Paul Mitcheson, Movember’s global director for cause and brand, said: “We want men to spot the signs a mate is struggling.
“If you notice someone acting differently, they might be going through tough times.
If you notice someone acting differently, they might be going through tough timesPaul Mitcheson
“Don’t worry, you won’t make things worse by asking how he’s doing, but you could well make things much better or even save his life.
“Three out of four suicides in the UK are men, and learning to spot a bro who’s feeling low can make all the difference.”
It’s not always easy to spot a bro who’s feeling low, which is why this Movember, we want to give you the tools you need to check your mate’s mental wellbeing.
Here are some of the signs to look out for:
Does your mate appear restless or irritable?
Perhaps they’ve flown off the handle more easily than usual.
If their behaviour has changed it could be a sign they’re battling with something and not opening up.
Psychologist Emma Kenny said: “You might notice they are pacing the room, constantly checking their phone or looking out the window.
“We sometimes notice repetitive obsessive compulsive behaviours too, such are repeatedly turning on and off lights or checking doors and windows are locked.
“They may seem overly worried with small things and this is a sign that they are feeling overwhelmed by their general day to day life.”
Risky, escapist or reckless behaviour can be another sign that a bloke is struggling.
Perhaps they’ve started drinking, smoking or using drugs or are doing it more than usual.
Men tend to turn to alcohol to medicate when they’re feeling low, says therapist Philip Karahassan.
Dr Emma added: “It’s normally reflective of a desire that they may want to escape.
“It’s possible they are using drink to try and improve their mood or mask depression, but this is a vicious cycle.”
Are they not wanting to do things they usually enjoy? Are they acting secretively?
If your mate has stopped socialising or they’re not wanting to do the stuff you know they love then chances are there’s something else going on.
Withdrawing themselves from activities they once looked forward to is another telltale sign.
The not so hungry one
Changes in weight and appetite can be another thing to look out for.
Some people turn to food as a comfort, while others won’t be hungry at all.
If you notice any weight changes, especially if they appear intentional, that could be something to note.
The moody one
Feeling low can cause rapid mood swings and emotions can be all over the shop.
Many people living with depression find it difficult to wake up in the morning, and hard to get to sleep.
A lack of sleep can leave people feeling anxious or moody the next day.
They might also seem a bit spaced out of forgetful.
Perhaps they’re missing deadlines or forgetting to collect the kids on time.
You might notice they start putting themselves down a serious or jokey way, for example ‘Oh, no one loves me’, or ‘I’m a waste of space’.
The lost interest one
As we mentioned earlier, feeling withdrawn is one thing to note.
Another is that you may have noticed they don’t want to make plans.
People with depression often find it difficult to visualise their future or make goals, says therapist Philip Karahassan.
You might also notice that they’ve also lost interest in their appearance.
“We often see self-care declining in men with mental health problems,” Emma explains.
“Not shaving or avoiding the hairdressers could be a symptom if this is something they have always done in the past.
“Taking care of personal hygiene may become difficult and they may find it hard to plan meals and eat as well as they usually do.
“Perhaps they can’t be bothered to shower in the morning.
“If they’ve always ironed their shirts but stop and seem unbothered by their appearance, this could be a symptom.
“Of course some men don’t iron anyway, you have to look at what is normal for them.
“If there is a decline in how they would normally look after themselves it might be cause for concern.”
What you can do
If you’ve noticed any of these warning signs and feel like you want to approach the topic with your mate, Movember recommend following these four steps:
Start by mentioning anything different you’ve noticed. Maybe he’s spending more time at the bar, coming into work late, or missing social events.
“You’ve not quite seemed yourself recently. Are you okay?”
Trust your instinct. Remember, we often say “I’m fine” when we’re not. So if you think something’s wrong, don’t be afraid to ask twice.
Try to give him your full attention, without interruptions.
Don’t feel you have to diagnose problems, offer solutions or give advice. Just let him know you’re all ears, judgement-free.
Follow-up questions are good too. They’ll help let him know you’re listening:
“That can’t be easy. How long have you felt that way?”
3. Encourage action
Help him to focus on simple things that might improve his wellbeing: Is he getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating properly? Maybe there’s something that’s helped before?
Suggest he tells other people he trusts how he’s feeling.
This will make things easier – for both of you. And if he’s felt low for more than two weeks, suggest he sees his doctor.
4. Check in
Suggest you catch up soon – in person if you can. If you can’t manage a meet-up, make time for a call, or drop him a message.
This will show you care. Plus, you’ll get a feel for whether he’s feeling any better.
If you’re worried that somebody’s life is in immediate danger, go directly to emergency services.