Make mental health your strength this men’s health week
Jun 17, 2020
One of Australia’s leading psychiatrists is urging men to check in on their mental strength, not just their physical strength, as part of Men’s Health Week.
Dr Mark Cross, who works with the Ramsay Health Care owned Northside Group, is known throughout the country for his role in the acclaimed ABC TV series Changing Minds. He said focusing on men’s mental health is important, because men aren’t the best at looking after themselves.
“We tend to ignore things and not want to accept weakness and in terms of our mental health, that’s even worse because it’s seen to be a weakness,” Dr Cross said.
“Statistically three-quarters of suicides are still men so something needs to change.”
In Australia, 1 in 8 men will experience depression and 1 in 5 will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives. Men are also two times more likely to have a substance use disorder than women.
Dr Cross, who has written two books, including the 2016 best seller Changing Minds, says a surprise positive out of the COVID-19 pandemic is that more people are talking about mental health.
“Mental health is more on the radar now than ever before. We see a lot more people are feeling out of sorts and have had to acknowledge stress, with job losses and changes in circumstance. I hope that will lead to more understanding,” Dr Cross said.
“We need to get men to relinquish that hunter-gatherer, toxic masculinity where they think they have to be tough and strong. It’s actually a sign of strength to acknowledge what’s going on and take positive steps. Because you don’t then want to hit the bottle or hit your wife. Getting help is not a sign of weakness.”
Dr Cross said a great first step to improving men’s mental health is to talk - to anybody.
“Reach out, chat to each other. There are some great support networks out there, like Mr Perfect or Mates in Construction, or your GP can discuss some of your options such as the services we provide at the Northside Group,” Dr Cross said.
“And maybe give the women or the partners in your life a bit of a break. If they’re telling you, ‘you seem out of sorts’, don’t just assume they’re nagging you. Take it as a positive step because it’s not a non-masculine thing to say, maybe they’re right.”
Men’s Health Week started in the United States in 1994. It aims to increase awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease in men and boys. It has been recognised in Australia since 2000.
This year, Men’s Health Week runs from 15th - 21st June.