Expert Advice For Better Mental Health
Expert Advice For Better Mental Health

Expert Advice For Better Mental Health


The suicide rate among men is more than triple what it is for women. Yet men account for only 36% of NHS referrals for psychological therapy. Here’s what the experts want more men to know and do…
Photography Blue Collectors/stocksy united

Recognise The Signs

“Mental health issues come in all shapes and sizes. But if you’re noticing marked and persistent changes in the way you feel, relate to others, and behave, get curious about yourself and pay attention to what’s arising. Some signs to look out for include difficulty concentrating; struggling to make decisions; feeling overwhelmed; not wanting to get out of bed in the morning; lack of motivation; loss of confidence; being forgetful; sleep disturbances; irritability; headaches or dizziness; muscle tension or pain; poor hygiene; chest pain or fast heartbeat; decrease in sex drive; retreating from others; turning to substances; over or under eating. If you experience two or more of these symptoms on an ongoing basis, reach out to your GP for a referral, or a therapist through UKCP or BACP, or a psychiatrist. The most important thing we can do is cultivate self-awareness, so we can get help when we need it.” – Sophie Scott, psychotherapist

Understand It’s Not All Mental

“The mind and body are intrinsically linked, so it’s common to feel both mentally and physically drained if your mental health has deteriorated. If you’ve been going through a stressful time, this triggers your fight or flight response, which is a significant drain on your energy. Signs your mental health could do with some TLC also include sleep changes, such as insomnia, restlessness and bad dreams, as well as changes in appetite or eating habits.” – Robert Common, group CEO at The Beekeeper House

Learn To Be Vulnerable

“One of the most common pitfalls is thinking you have to be strong all the time. What’s really needed is honesty – we need partners, fathers and sons to be vulnerable. We know the biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide. Seeking help is never weak – in fact, it could save your life. If you suspect a friend is struggling, reach out to them and ask them if they’d like a chat. Be human about it.” – Sophie

“One of the most common issues I see with men in the clinic is that they feel disconnected from their emotions.”

Understand Your Risk

“We are biologically predisposed to mental health issues. For example, some of us have a naturally lower resilience to stress on a genetic level. If you are prone to stress and then in a high-stress situation for a prolonged period, such as becoming a dad for the first time, you would benefit from paying extra attention to your mental health. Evidence also suggests those who experienced a chaotic or dysfunctional upbringing are more likely to struggle with substance or alcohol abuse, while those under 30 are 29% more likely to experience symptoms of burnout, and middle managers are at a higher risk of burnout than any other job level.” – Robert

Start With One Thing

“We all know there’s a wide range of stress-busting solutions out there, but it’s almost impossible to implement multiple things. Research proves you can only change one habit at a time – it’s about becoming 1% better each day, which compounds over time. If you attempt to do more than this, you dilute your willpower. Score every area of your life out of ten – for example, if your family scores low, prioritise investing in those relationships. Or if work is low due to stress, decide on the one thing you could do to improve this. Implement just one major change at a time.” – Sophie

Practise Mindfulness

“Mindfulness may be a buzzword, but it’s a game-changer for managing mental health. Meditation has been proven to reduce the size of the amygdala, the body’s fight or flight response centre, which produces feelings like stress, fear and anxiety. There are many ways to incorporate mindfulness – just ten minutes daily can make a difference. Exercise can also be a way to find headspace. Yoga is a great way to relieve stress, and if you’re pressed for time, even walking or cycling to work a couple of times a week will provide physical and mental stress-relief benefits.” – Robert

Clean Up Your Diet

“A well-nourished body is better at handling stress, recovering from illnesses and difficult life events. In fact, the gut microbiome communicates with the brain through the gut-brain axis, making diet an effective natural treatment for depression. A diet with lots of fruit, fish, olive oil and vegetables can decrease depressive symptoms, while a poor diet increases the risk of depression. People who eat a lot of red meat, added sugars, high-fat dairy products, fried foods and creamy sauces experience more depressive symptoms and lower moods than others. If you are struggling with low moods, avoid eating too much fat, white flour, sugar and processed meat, all of which increase inflammation in the body and increase your risk of depression.” – Daniel Mansson, co-founder of Flow Neuroscience 

Start A Journal

“Every night before bed, write down three things you did that day that made you happy and made the world a better place. It could be something as simple as recycling food waste, or perhaps it’s making dinner for your partner, or recognising that a colleague wasn’t their usual self and inviting them out for a lunchtime walk. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is – it just needs to be things you’ve done that made a small change in some capacity.  Work towards understanding how the little actions you do can have a wider impact, and don’t underestimate the power this can have on your mental health.” – Mandana Ahmadi, co-founder & CEO at Alena

Get In Touch With Your Emotions

“One of the most common issues I see with men in clinic is that they feel disconnected from their emotions, or don’t regard their emotions as important. Emotional literacy is imperative for better mental health – just being able to articulate clearly, even to yourself, exactly how you are feeling can lessen the overwhelm. Start by saying in your head exactly how you feel – maybe it’s concerned, frustrated, excited or hopeless. Look up a mood board or mood wheel and think exactly why you feel that way. If it’s a negative emotion, think about whether it’s a solvable problem or whether it’s out of your control. If it’s something you can solve, work on a solution. This way, you turn the worry into something you can deal with. If it’s a positive emotion, feel grateful and do something positive off the back of this feeling, such as texting something nice to a friend or family member.” – Ariana Alexander-Sefre, founder & co-CEO of SPOKE

“The gut communicates with the brain through the gut-brain axis, making diet an effective treatment for depression.”

Be More Positive

“One of the things I teach my clients is ‘explanatory styles’. This refers to the way we explain, to ourselves, the things that happen in our lives. As an example, say two people are made redundant at the same time. The first believes: ‘I knew I was never any good at that job. I’ll never find work again; my life is over.’ They believe the redundancy was their fault, that it will last forever, and that it will impact their life. They are far more likely to get stuck in a downward spiral than the second person who believes: ‘The company was downsizing. It doesn’t mean I was bad at my job. I’ll find another job soon, and at least I still have my health, family and friends.’ This person is unlikely to get stuck in a negative place and is more likely to find work sooner, because they’ll be actively looking for opportunities.” – Amy Launder, psychotherapist 

Seek Support

“The sooner you seek help, the better, and it’s never too early to get support. CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) is a fantastic charity that’s taking a stand against male suicide and changing the rhetoric around men’s mental health. Its website is full of interesting articles and useful resources. If you’re looking for a therapist, make sure you find one who is fully accredited via BACP or UKCP, and consider keeping a thought record or diary, which can be a great tool to track your emotions. You can then use this information in conjunction with CBT to help you investigate and break down thoughts to then challenge them – it can be immensely helpful if you struggle with negative self-talk.” – Sophie

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SLMan are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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