Depression is an illness that can strike when you least expect it and without rhyme or reason. Unfortunately, in a worrying trend, many men are not seeking help for their underlying mental health issues.
Eric Grothe Jnr, former NRL player and Men’s Health Week ambassador, knows all too well about the pressure and the struggles of day-to-day life whilst living with depression.
“Having been a professional sportsman myself for many years, I’ve seen the impact bottling up a mental health problem can have in the long run,” he says. “It’s so important to confront these issues early.”
“Just like your physical health, there are always actions you can take to help improve the mental health of yourself and those around you this Men’s Health Week,” says Grothe.
With around 1 in 8 Australian men experiencing depression in their lifetime, men should feel they have the support around them to tackle their issues and the surrounding stigma. Here are Grothe’s top tips for taking control of your mental health:
1. Help remove the stigma
We all play a role in shifting perceptions associated with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. We need to help more males seek the help and support they need by supporting one other, instead of judging. I’ve seen many of my former colleagues struggle with depression and anxiety, as have I at times, so I’ve seen the impact of bottling up problems. Help remove stigma associated with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues by paying attention to how your friends and family are doing, offering support and speaking up.
2. Get your troubles out in the open
Having honest conversations with a mate and being a good listener is one thing that all of us can do this Men’s Health Week. An open chat with a trusted friend about something that’s bothering you can make a massive difference to how you’re feeling. What begins as banter may end up saving a life.
3. Have a chat behind the wheel
For Men’s Health Week 2016, Nissan is encouraging men to talk about mental health issues whilst doing a lap in the car with a mate. The aim of the ‘Chat Laps’ initiative is to confront these issues early and being in a car with someone is a good time to do this; with Chat Laps, we’re urging men to use driving time to listen to and help a mate. Take the opportunity to open up to a friend in the car if anything is worrying you; it’s that easy.
4. Stay active
For many men, activities you can look forward to is an important element in overcoming hurdles. This rings true for me in the high-pressure setting that is professional sport, and a good training session never fails to clear the head. Activity-based approaches like sports and getting outdoors can help to encourage you to open up to others.
5. Find help and advice
By visiting the beyondblue.org.au/chatlaps, men can get tips on how to start a difficult conversation or assist a mate to get help. Help is available and it all starts with that first chat. Mental health professionals are available 24/7 at their Support Service and can be reached by phone (1300 22 4636) or online (beyondblue.org.au/get-support)
Men’s Health Week runs from June 13-19. For more info check out menshealthweek.org.au – #MensHealthWeek