‘Ireland needs a national plan to support men’s mental health’
‘Ireland needs a national plan to support men’s mental health’, writes Niall Mulligan, Executive Director with Samaritans Ireland.
Measures to support men’s mental health is a key ask in Samaritans Ireland’s 2020 Manifesto 4 Asks 4 A Safer Ireland. In this document we call for a national plan for men’s mental health in order to encourage men and boys to take care of their mental health and emotional wellbeing. Ireland needs a plan to support men’s mental health
Samaritans research shows that less than 20% of men over the age of 18, who are experiencing mental health difficulties, will seek help from a mental health professional, and less than 35% will speak to their GP during a tough period.
In particular, middle-aged men on low incomes have been the highest risk group for suicide over many years. Far too little is known about what works to support these men when they begin to struggle. At a time when the latest CSO suicide statistics for the Republic of Ireland confirm an increase in annual suicides of 69 (352 in 2018; 421 in 2019), and with every 3 in 4 suicides being men, the need for a plan to reach and support men at high risk of suicide is critical.
A recent report by Samaritans, ‘Out of sight, out of mind: Why less well-off, middle-aged men don’t get the support they need’ focused on the lived experience of men, looking at what support men in this at-risk group want from services when they are struggling. The men Samaritans spoke to had been struggling for years with poor mental health, suicidal thoughts, and feelings. Despite experiencing many well-known risk factors, opportunities to help these men at critical points before they reached crisis were missed.
The Power of Human Connection
Crucially, the men we spoke to didn’t view community-based support services, focused on fostering connection and community, as relevant to them before they reached crisis. The involvement they looked for was where they felt they were contributing rather than receiving. This of course is the beauty of the Men’s Shed movement. By attending a local shed, men gain significantly in terms of their own mental health and wellbeing by contributing to the activities of the shed.
Samaritans understand the value of listening and the power of human connection. Samaritans key message is if you’re struggling, if life is difficult and you’re feeling anxious, stressed, or unable to cope, don’t struggle through it alone. Don’t bottle it up. We’re here to listen, whatever you’re going through. If you need to talk, please telephone us on our 24 hour confidential freephone – 116 123 – or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.