This Men’s Health Week (13 – 19 June) Somerset County Council is sharing seven top tips for better wellbeing after latest statistics show 10 per cent of all UK men suffer from at least one common mental health disorder.
All Somerset residents are encouraged to make time to look after their health and wellbeing this Men’s Health Week, but men are less likely to visit a pharmacy or GP than females – and sadly 76 per cent of all suicides are male.
Cllr Adam Dance, Lead Member for Public Health, Equalities and Diversity at Somerset County Council said: “Ahead of Men’s Health Awareness Week, we’re promoting seven top tips to help improve wellbeing. It is really important we all look after our mental and physical wellbeing, but particularly men who are less likely to come forward for help and support.
“Between 2019 and 2020, prostate cancer diagnoses were down 29 per cent, but that isn’t because prostate cancer is getting rarer (it isn’t), but because men were not visiting their GPs to begin diagnosis. During lockdowns, male GP visits also fell more than female visits. This comes as the Covid-19 pandemic intensifies instances of poor mental health and wellbeing, particularly among men.”
The seven top tips are:
- Get talking
Whether it’s your parents, partner, friend or a professional, it’s helpful to have at least one person you can open up to if you’re struggling with a health issue or any other problem laying heavy on your mind.
Why not try out the Men’s Health Forum’s 14 questions that go a bit deeper than ‘how are you?’. You can use them to help figure out how you’re really feeling: https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/how-are-you-really
- Be there for the men in your life
If you think a friend, colleague, or somebody else you know might be struggling, try to offer them a listening ear and signpost them to appropriate support. Open Mental Health are an alliance of mental health organisations who have come together to provide 24/7 support to adults in Somerset.
If you know someone struggling with their mental health, there are lots of things you can do. Find out how you can help and support them at https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters
- Avoid using alcohol or drugs to cope
Many people drink alcohol as a way to relax with friends and have fun, but some people can end up relying on alcohol or drugs as a coping method for stress or other distress in their life.
Men are more likely to use drugs and alcohol as coping methods when they are not feeling well, instead of getting the help that they need.
Try to be more mindful of your drink and drug use. Think about whether you are indulging to simply have a good time, or if you’re doing it to bury health problems that would be much better helped if you acknowledged them and got advice from your friends, family or GP. If you’re concerned, contact the Somerset Drug & Alcohol Service.
- It’s ok to ask for help
Not knowing how to ask for help is a major problem for a lot of men in all areas of their health and wellbeing. For example, in England men made up only 36% of referrals to Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) – a talking therapy service to help adults with anxiety and depression.
If something doesn’t feel right, talking to your GP is a great first step. Things often get a lot worse if you just pretend it isn’t happening and there is help out there whatever the problem is. Alternatively, Mindline Somerset offers a 24/7 listening service and they can be contacted on 0800 138 1692 or 01823 276892.
- Get moving
Exercise releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins in the brain. Even a short burst of 10 minutes brisk walking can improve your mental alertness, energy and mood.
Research shows that when people participate in regular physical activity, they can expect increased self-esteem, less stress and reduced anxiety. Regular exercisers could also be less likely to develop mental health problems and if they already have a mental health problem when starting, their quality of life could improve.
SASP in Somerset have lots of great ideas to get you moving. Check them out at https://www.sasp.co.uk.
- Eat well
Not only does eating well help to prevent many diseases such as stroke, cancer and high blood pressure, but it can also help us to feel emotionally well.
Your brain is always working hard to allow you to think, move, breath – survive, even when you’re asleep. So, it only makes sense that what you fuel your brain with, e.g. what you eat and drink will affect its function and as a result your mood and your mental health.
- Get outside
Giving your mood and wellbeing a boost can be as simple as going out of your front door and enjoying time in the fresh air. Research is finding that spending time outside, especially in nature, helps to improve mood and reduce feelings of stress. Not only that, but oxygen is thought to increase levels of feel-good chemicals released in your body in turn making you feel happier and more relaxed.
From spending time with family and having fun with friends in the garden, to enjoying the scenery and embracing the weather on our rolling hills, Get Outside in Somerset has plenty of simple ways to get outside in Somerset. Visit Home Page – Get outside in Somerset for more information.
For more information and support, visit Healthy Somerset – Public Health portal for Somerset where you can access support.
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