My name is Samuel Carvalho. I’m 23 and I was born in Cambridge where I still live.
But the key information to point out is that I am a man who has suffered from mental illnesses such as anorexia, bulimia and depression.
A fact that shocks many is that 75% of all suicides are carried out by men.
'It didn’t feel like people would believe me if I opened up about it because I wasn’t female'
I was in my teenage years when I battled with my eating disorders and depression. I didn’t seek help or tell anybody for years because I had only ever heard about women or girls experiencing these problems.
It didn’t feel like people would believe me if I opened up about it because I wasn’t female. I also felt that the females and males in my school would think I was everything but masculine for admitting I had mental health problems.
Masculinity and ‘male pride’
The latter is exactly one of the main problems for why it’s so difficult for men to open up about their mental health. Masculinity and ‘male pride’.
Some men feel that they will appear as less of a man to other men and women if they admit that they have a mental illness.
'Traditionally men are told to be strong, independent and masculine'
They believe they become vulnerable by opening up and men naturally feel they have to appear strong, independent and ‘manly’ and many believe that admitting you have a mental illness reduces or diminishes all of these things.
Traditionally men are told to be strong, independent and masculine. We’re told that we need to be financially and socially stable.
But this old-fashioned way of life for men meant that we couldn’t open up about our problems, we couldn’t seek help and ultimately had to bottle up our feelings and problems. But even when we are questioned about our mental health, we are rarely aware that we have a mental illness until it gets to crisis point.
But men are very much the same when it comes to physical problems. Many men don’t want to go to the GP about any physical issues that they have. If we’re not likely to visit the GP for a physical ache, pain or concern then what are the chances that we are going to seek help for something in the mind?
We need to look at men and the overall picture of getting help for any problem, physical or mental. I believe if we can encourage men to go to their GP for a physical problem then it’ll positively affect the issue of men going to get help for mental problems and vice versa. Men need to realise that going to their doctor for any health problem isn’t a big deal and nor does it make you any less of a man.
Suicide is such a big problem for men and whatever way you look at it, it is a crisis.
Getting help is the manly thing to do
All of us men, and woman, need to start showing that getting help for our mental health is in fact “manning up” and the right thing to do.
'Admitting you need to talk to someone and get help is a brave thing to do'
That not getting help for a mental illness is not the manly thing to do. Admitting you need to talk to someone and get help is a brave thing to do.
Men need to look out for their male friend's mental health as well, especially in the workplace. Men need to talk about their own mental health among their friends so should they need help they feel they could open up to you or their GP.
If they can’t open up to their GP immediately, at least they can open up to you and that way they’re not alone and you can support them but ultimately help them to get professional support.
I personally feel If women can help show that men who seek help for mental health problems are indeed men and brave, then that would play a big part in more men getting the help they need too.
This is a crisis, a crisis that we can all help play our part in, we all need to encourage men to seek mental health support if they need it but we also need to talk to one another.
If you suspect a man may have a mental health problem or may just appear down or depressed, simply ask them how they’re doing, ask them if they’re alright, let them know you’re there if they need someone to talk to.
If you're a man and you've had mental health problems before, consider opening up about it (if you can).
It all helps us men feel that there is nothing wrong when it comes to opening up about our problems and seeking help.
About the author
Samuel Carvalho runs a global mental health organisation that helps tens of thousands of young people dealing with mental health problems which has won many awards and recognition from many important people including many Mayors, Celebrities and even Her Majesty the Queen’s Lord Lieutenants. He also helps Addenbrooke's Hospital and East England Ambulance Service when they are extremely busy and need to get a message out to the public, they come to Samuel asking for him to publicly tweet to his audience because they found out when he did this it really helped people to make the right decision on whether they should come to Accident and Emergency or not, or if they should call 111 before 999.