While there’s still some way to go, more and more of us 'blokes' are starting to open up about how we're doing.
We reckon part of this comes from Sir John Kirwan's awesome message that it's okay (good, in fact) to talk about how we're feeling. One great side-effect is that when we do, we show others that it's okay for them talk about stuff too.
Many men talk with their partners, but this isn’t for everyone. Some of us do not have partners (40% of men are single), and for others, this just isn't the easiest or best, option.
Canterbury counsellor Dr Karey Meisner says a lot of the time it comes down to finding a good mate you can open up to.
“The next time your mate asks you how you are simply let them know. It may be a few words (‘not good mate’) and a facial expression to match. Don’t be afraid to show that there are things you’d like to talk about," says Karey.
Karey says that if you don’t have a close friend, identifying a man from your networks – family, social, work or sports – who you think would ‘get it’ or who has already ‘been there’, is a good start.
“Signalling to them in advance that you want to chat about something can allow you to gauge their willingness, and help get them in the right headspace. Don’t worry if words don’t come easily – you don’t have to go into detail. The key is that they know where you’re at. Simply knowing you’re not in this alone can make a big difference.”
Karey says a lot of the time, guys who have ‘been there’ will be able to spot the sign of someone who could benefit from having a chat about how they’re doing.
Comments like ‘I’m not sure about anything anymore, mate’, or actions like working really late hours or being irritable, can all be tell-tale signs.
“You don’t have to give them lots of words, a lot of the time you just need to let him know that you get it. Once that man knows you understand the struggle, keep in touch so he knows you are watching out for him. Just knowing a good mate cares can be enough to sustain a person through quite a bit.”
“For other men who need to talk it through to keep it going, be available. It doesn’t necessarily mean fixing it; venting can be good as it lowers the distress.”
Karey believes it takes genuine courage to reach out and say you're having a tough time – but the benefits are worth it.
"Connecting with others is great for our mental health, and it has a snowball effect. As more men talk openly – to other men – about how they’re doing, it increases the number of men who have ‘been there’ and can help a mate."
To be willing to show vulnerability and offer support? Manly as.
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