For Men’s Mental Health Month, Venture Trust asked some of our delivery partners to discuss men’s mental health and the experience of those they work with. Walking With The Wounded provide care to those who served in the armed forces and their families. Working within areas of employment, mental health, care coordination and volunteering to provide the support veterans need to transition back to civilian life, including how they can serve in their communities and reignite their sense of purpose. This week Carolyn Brown, Walking With The Wounded’s Clinical Lead, shares the perspective of men’s mental health in relation to ex-servicemen.
Men’s Mental Health Month is an opportunity to highlight and talk about mental health as experienced by men. Reducing barriers and increasing accessibility to services is a frequently discussed topic in the mental health sector, particularly regarding ex-servicemen. Many male veterans are not aware of the common indicators that they may be experiencing mental health issues and find it particularly difficult to talk about feelings, which adds to the difficulty of being open when experiencing, for example, thoughts and feelings associated with depression or anxiety.
It is important that we acknowledge the difficulty some men experience in accessing support and treatment for mental health issues and we need to adapt accordingly, especially when communicating and aiming to create the conditions that encourage and nurture deeper conversations. Compared to the general population, ex-servicemen are less likely to seek treatment for mental health conditions. Adjustment to civilian life can be difficult and deployment stressors can trigger distress and mental health conditions. Alongside this is the idea that masculinity equates to strength, dominance, and control and that a lack of these qualities is a sign of weakness.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, in 2018, 5000 men took their own life. Suicide remains the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. The good news about men’s mental health is that there is support available and lots of great information out there that can help. Having a strong support network is a vital tool in maintaining good mental health and wellbeing. Relationships and connections are one of our basic core needs. Many men find it easier to bond and talk when engaging in another activity which allows for an ‘escape route’ if things get too intense or challenging, fostering feelings of control and camaraderie, that are familiar and empowering.
If you are struggling with your mental health or just need to talk to someone please get in touch with the following organisations. Help and support is available through Walking With The Wounded via our Head Start programme. We also have a range of resources to support your mental health and self-care available on our website.
Venture Trust provide an Outdoor Therapy mental health service for ex-service men and women. This is a walk and talk therapy service which takes place in local outdoor spaces such as parks, hills, woodlands and beaches. If you or someone you know would like more information, visit our Outdoor Therapy page or send us an email.
Venture Trust also deliver Positive Futures, a personal development programme which involves community engagement and outdoor experiences in the highlands of Scotland.