"All your friend wants to hear is that you’re there for them and your feelings towards them will not change," Time to Change said upon the release of their latest research into male mental health.
39 percent of men say they’ve had a disappointing reaction when they’ve shared things about their mental health in the past, according to new research released by Time To Change.
The mental health charity surveyed 3,000 men and found that only a quarter would openly tell their male friends if they were struggling with their mental health.
Time To Change has released five tips for broaching constructive conversations about male mental health, to coincide with the publication of their research.
"There is no need to make it awkward, just let them know they are supported," Time To Change suggest as a starting point.
"All your friend wants to hear is that you’re there for them and your feelings towards them will not change. You don’t have to try and give advice, just be the good friend you’ve always been."
Despite the research showing that 70 percent of men have at least one to three close friends who they feel they can open up to, just under half (44 percent) have had fewer than two important personal conversations with a male friend in the last year.
More than half (52 percent) of men surveyed said they had had their most meaningful conversations with friends during the festive period.
Adam Barton has experience of anxiety and depression. "When I was struggling, I felt like I couldn’t speak to anyone around me because I didn’t want my friends or family to think I had failed," the 29-year-old said.
"I didn’t want to be a burden or a disappointment – I felt like I was letting people down. It was so hard to overcome that barrier and self-stigma."
"I know that sometimes men push subjects like mental health to one side, and say things like ‘man up’, but luckily my friends didn’t do that. They offered to help."
Dominic Arnall, Head of Programme Management at Time to Change, added: "Simply providing men with the confidence to support their friends has the power to change lives, and it doesn’t need to be difficult or scary."
"We all know that the usual and expected response to ‘How are you?’ is ‘Fine thanks’. Ask again if you’re worried about a friend – a simple ‘Are you sure you’re ok?’ can be the signal they need to open up."
Time to Change's 'Five Tips' for male mental health
Time to Change have compiled five tips to help men get their friends to open up.
1. Ask twice: Sometimes we say we’re fine when we’re not. To really find out, ask twice. It shows you’re willing to be there and listen – now or when your friend is ready.
2. Read between the lines: While some men might come right out and say they are dealing with mental health issues, 31 percent are more likely to say they are stressed and 30 percent that they are not feeling themselves. 35 percent of men said if they wanted to talk to a friend about their mental health they would ask how their friend is doing and hope they’d ask them back.
3. If he’s inviting you to go for a drink one-on-one, he might want to have a proper chat: 63 percent of men said they would be most comfortable talking about their mental health over a drink. Keep an any eye out for the hint. Try just listening and creating some space for your friend to share what’s on their mind.
4. Know when to end the banter: We all like a bit of banter from time to time, but it’s also easy to spot when someone’s not in the mood or they want to be serious. If you notice something is different about your friend, or your jokes aren’t going down so well, ask how they are doing – and Ask Twice! Remember, ‘grow up’ and ‘man up’ are never helpful. 42 percent of men say phrases like that are conversation blockers.
5. No need to make it awkward, just let them know they are supported: 39% of men say they’ve had a disappointing reaction when they’ve shared things about their mental health in the past. All your friend wants to hear is that you’re there for them and your feelings towards them will not change. You don’t have to try and give advice, just be the good friend you’ve always been.
See also: I need urgent help, I'm feeling suicidal