Opening up about mental health and wellbeing has traditionally been difficult for Kiwi men. Because of this, more organisations are encouraging men to talk about their mental health. Last week, the Radio Hauraki team stayed silent for their No Talk Day initiative which focused on men’s mental health. One advocate who has travelled the country to get men to talk believes isolation is one of the biggest drives to suicide. He offers tips on how to effectively ask someone if they are okay.
A Tauranga mental health advocate says isolation is part of a silent crisis following the target=”_blank”>Radio Hauraki team staying silent to encourage others to speak up about men’s mental illness.
The Coroner’s annual provisional suicide statistics, released last August, found 30 Bay of Plenty people died by suicide in the 2017/18 year.
Nationally, 668 people took their own lives and 475 of these were men.
On Friday, the Radio Hauraki team stayed silent in their No Talk Day initiative focused on men’s mental health.
The goal was to help fight mental illness and male suicide in New Zealand.
The radio station hoped the silence it created would make room for Kiwi men to have conversations about their mental health and to connect with friends and check on their mates.
Barter Barber Sam Dowdall said one of the reasons men found it difficult to talk about mental illness was to do with emotional literacy.
Dowdall has just moved back to Tauranga after touring the country and giving men the opportunity to open up about mental health over a haircut.
“It’s really alarming that the conversation is so new every time we have the discussion,” he said.
He said many men were brought up thinking their emotions were limited to feeling happy, angry and violent.
All people were somewhere on the mental health spectrum, he said, and there needed to be a lot more education on what it meant to be “mentally healthy”.
Dowdall said Generation Z was commendable in its understanding of mental health, among other things, saying “they haven’t been raised in a world of absolutes”.
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He believed one of the biggest drives in suicide was isolation.
“You could be surrounded by people and still be isolated … all it takes is one person to say how they feel with.”
This was something he had seen first-hand, and when people opened up about it, although they felt vulnerable, they found they were not alone in their emotions.
Talking about mental health did not have to be intense and Dowdall said one of the best ways to talk to a man about mental health was to do something, keeping your hands busy and be side-by-side instead of facing one another.
“It takes the intensity away … you’re not trying to fix anything, you just need to hear,” he said.
Coast breakfast announcer and voice of New Zealand Motorsport Brian Kelly said it often took for a man to lose someone they knew to suicide to think about mental health.
Kelly said he had lost friends to suicide and said it left him shocked and with many questions.
“You ask the question why and you look around at your mates and ask them if they’re okay, it’s as simple as that,”
“I don’t know what it is about guys … they just won’t talk and open up and they should.”
Patua Te Taniwha – Fight the Monster – is a Rotorua charitable trust set up to support whānau affected by suicide.
Chairwoman Mataku-Ariki de Roo lost her father to suicide, shaping her passion in raising awareness about suicide.
“It’s common for men not to talk about their emotions and thoughts … so knowing the signs of suicide is vital in arming whanau with the knowledge and tools to help.”
She said whanau who lost someone to suicide were affected with the lifelong trauma of suicide grief.
She said suicide grief brought on emotions from shock to sadness, to guilt and unworthiness.
“It is important for men to speak about mental health, as it could help save their life or another man’s life,” she said.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.
If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:
DEPRESSION HELPLINE : 0800 111 757
LIFELINE : 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS : 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE : 0800 376 633 or text 234
There are lots of places to get support. For others, click here .
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