Mental Health, Mindfulness and Men: Time to Act

Mental Health, Mindfulness and Men: Time to Act

On 4th February, my colleagues and I will be joining the national Time to Talk about mental health campaign by taking 5 minutes of our day (probably more, knowing us) to ask each other about how we’re looking after ourselves. While we will not deny the benefits of exercise, good diet and a decent night’s sleep, we will be focusing on what it is we feel and think about who we are and how we manage life’s challenges, because we hold the belief that sharing stories and trusting each other to listen skilfully with kindness is what builds healthy relationships and contributes to our overall wellbeing as well peak performance.

But not everyone feels comfortable about sharing what they are feeling and thinking, especially when pain and fear dominate their experience, especially if they believe it a sign of weakness to talk about feelings. This may be one reason why many men choose not to talk about their mental health, for fear of being judged as weak and unmanly.

I was listening to our Health Minister, Norman Lamb, on the radio this morning, reporting an increase in mental-health needs and ever decreasing resources for services to meet those needs. And what about those who choose not to access services in the first place? Research shows men to be less likely to ask for help and more likely to end their lives when in mental distress; 78% of suicides are among men under 35, 86% of all violent crime is committed by men, men are 3 times more likely to become alcohol dependent. All findings suggest men have difficulty managing their mental health, and fail to recognise the warning signs.

So, what can we do to help men to look after their minds better? Is there an alternative to the excellent invitation to talk on 4th February?

I invite you to consider the role that mindfulness meditation can play in helping us all to manage life’s demands, painful feelings and difficult thoughts, but especially those of us who choose not to share your inner lives with our friends, loved ones and health care professionals. Mindfulness is an invitation to go into gentle communication with oneself, to create the necessary internal mental space to build resilience to life’s challenges, and to feel a sense of choicefulness about how to act.

Thinking, feeling, talking and acting; we all have options and we all need to find a way that suits our personality, our preferences and our values. If you’d like to experience how mindfulness can help, why not come to one of our taster sessions, or join our eight week programme in April. To find out more call 01954267640.

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