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Encouraging males to speak about their problems?

Whilst I've been at Uni I've become a lot more attuned to noticing when the males around my circle haven't been too okay because they typically self medicate or start acting slightly out of character. I always take the time to ask how they've been finding things as a way of starting that conversation. What better way to improve than actually ask, so my questions are:

What ways can we (females or non-binaries)  help you to talk about things like mental health and more?

How can we start the conversation if we're unsure of what approach to use?

What things aren't helpful/unhelpful and why?


  • AidanAidan Clever idiot Posts: 2,943 Boards Guru
    edited March 2020
    Wanted to say it's great you've taken notice and want to try and help, it speaks a lot to how good of a friend you are! :)

    One of the obvious things I can think of is it's easier to try to talk about it 1-to-1. It's hard to come out to lots of people at once, compared to just one person you really trust. It's also great to get them alone cos when men are around each other, it's all 'oi lads lads' and everyone's ego gets inflated 10 times and any weakness gets shot down 10 times harder too. Though some people are like proper 'lads' and some people just aren't, so it really depends.

    One of the differences in men vs women when it comes to mental health, is that men tend to act outwards on it more than woman actually. So a man might not talk about his feelings, but his behaviour changes to reflect it. You noticing self-medicating behaviour and changes in character, those are generally the signs and you did well spotting them.

    Humour is also great. I can't speak for other people, cos some people don't have a humour about these things and it's understandable, but for me at least being able to laugh about my problems really took the edge off them. When you can still laugh, there's still hope.

    Just be there for them. You don't have to drag them into a dark room and point a bright lamp in there face and interrogate them about their thoughts and feelings, but you can let them know you're there for them and you want to listen whenever they want to talk- and they might take you up on it. As a guy there aren't a lot of places or people that are truly accessible for you to talk to.

    Think this is really important too, is look after yourself. It isn't selfish to need time to yourself, being supportive of people can take a toll. If you do feel selfish for having to look after yourself, then remember that it's good for your friends too that you can keep happy and healthy. Happiness is contagious.

    Some unhelpful things?

    I think it's cliche to say 'man up' but I'm not really sure anyone actually uses it that often anymore. I do see a lot of 'people have it worse than you' though. Sure, someone can actually have it worse than you and that's true, but if you were only allowed to be sad if no one else had it worse there'd only be 1 person in the whole world allowed to be sad. We don't tell heppy people to stop because 'some people have it better than you'.

    I know something that can be really frustrating is people who don't look after themselves, and you might wanna blame them for being in their situation and not doing anything about it. It might even seem like they don't want to get better or that they're not even trying. They're in a really bad place, and they're trying as hard as they can or they just don't know what to do or they're really scared.

    I hope this helps, and you're a really great friend. Remember to take care of yourself too though! :)

    but idk tho
  • Salix_alba_2019Salix_alba_2019 Posts: 1,239 Wise Owl
    Thank you so soooooo much for much for this @Aidan 💜
  • MaisyMaisy The Mix convert CymruPosts: 338 Moderator
    This is an interesting thread!

    Definitely agree that males tend to 'act out' more than females, other there are also some males who 'internalise' their struggles too.

    I think checking in with them when you notice things, listening, and just trying to be there for them can be helpful. One thing I regret not doing for a male friend is checking in. I noticed he hadn't been in school for a while, and wanted to ask how things were, but I didn't because I felt he might not want to say. Later on he asked me about why, if I had noticed, I hadn't checked in with them. So I try to check in more.

    I do also agree with @Aidan that keeping a sense of humour is good. I might not be able to help much but if I can try to provide a little bit of entertainment as a distraction, then that's something. 

    I also agree with the unhelpful things. The whole 'be more grateful' and 'others have it worse' or even 'get over it' can feel very invalidating, regardless of gender. 
  • coc0maccoc0mac Posts: 806 Part of The Mix Family
    Just wanted to say that I love this thread a lot! Such an important thing to talk about and I'm interested in following the replies :heart
  • Han93Han93 EnglandPosts: 309 The Mix Regular
    Love this thread idea - I've found it really interesting and useful for me. @Aidan and @Maisy I think your points are great and i'll definitely take them into consideration with my male friends/family members so thank you <3

    There are some suggestions about supporting others in articles by The Mix (however they are generic rather than for males) but you could find these useful:

    Mind also have loads of stuff about helping others: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helping-someone-else/ but I guess it always depends on that particular person as Aidan mentioned
  • Salix_alba_2019Salix_alba_2019 Posts: 1,239 Wise Owl
    @coc0mac Thanks for the love 💗
  • BubblesGoesBooBubblesGoesBoo Sunny ScotlandPosts: 3,589 Community Veteran
    Love this thread! Taking on board all the comments in hopes I can better support my male friends 😁
    ' So I put a bullet where I shouda put a helmet, and I crash my car cause I wanna get carried away, that's why I'm standing on the overpass screaming at myself 'hey, I wanna get better''  
  • JamJarJamJar Posts: 255 Super Moderator
    Such a great theme for a thread, and I love all these responses. 

    Something that maybe hasn't been mentioned yet is activities. Indoor activities or outdoor activities, boys love activities. In comparison to my girl mates who are more than happy to meet up for coffee/food/pub to catch up, whenever I'm meeting up with my guy mates we usually like to do something.

    I know this might sound obvious, but guys tend to relax way more when there is a separate objective to meeting up. So maybe suggest going bouldering, life drawing, a board game cafe, or even a hike in the outdoors. This might allow you to get your make friend one on one, and also will calm them down which would hopefully allow for more free-flowing conversation :) 

    Would love to hear more suggestions. Let's keep this thread going!
  • Salix_alba_2019Salix_alba_2019 Posts: 1,239 Wise Owl
    Great points mention there @JamJar
  • MikeMike 🖥️🎧 LandaanPosts: 3,343 Community Manager
    Super late to the party here but wanted to say this conversation is a great read. :)
    All behaviour is a need trying to be met.
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