Suicide is the cause of death for a quarter of males aged 20-34.
This shocking statistic, combined with the tragic death of Lil Chris in March, has once again brought the subject of men’s mental health to the forefront of conversation.
To coincide with Mental Health Awareness week, The Self-Esteem Team (SET) – a trio of women in the media, who tour the UK’s schools and colleges delivering classes on mental health and body image – are urging men to open up about their feelings.
SET has created a video starring celebrities Stephen Fry, Clarke Carlisle, Professor Green, YouTube star Charlie McDonnell, TV presenter Ortis Deley, Deaf Havana frontman James Veck-Gilodi, and comedian Ian Royce, who reveal their daily battles with mental health.
“Everyday I battle to be a somebody and a something,” says one of the stars.
While another adds: “My main fear has always been my mental state coming between me and a loved one, that they may not understand that I cannot control when a moment of panic arrives. And to them it seems I’m being selfish or miserable for no apparent reason.
“I guess my deepest fear is ending up alone because of it.”
The video hopes to stamp out stigma by showing that emotions don’t emasculate.
It’s dedicated to James Mabbett, 24, a close friend of Nadia Mendoza from the Self-Esteem Team, who took his own life earlier this year.
Mabbett’s death, as well as those of Robin Williams and Lil Chris, inspired the team to create a campaign aimed specifically at men.
Nadia Mendoza, showbiz editor at Daily Star, says: “Mental health is not reserved for people frothing at the mouth with zombie eyes in straitjackets. Anyone with a body and brain has a mental health, just as we all have a physical health.
“On the surface, James always seemed so high on life. Yet a smile can mask a lot. And the ‘happiest’ one in the room could be the saddest. Open discussions on mental health – in the classroom, at home, with friends – play a vital role in destigmatising.
“Equally, talking about feelings doesn’t mean surrendering your privacy by spilling your secrets to random peers at school or work, sometimes it’s enough to say ‘I’m having a bad day’ to communicate if you’re struggling and it’s up to the rest of us to understand what that could mean.”
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Meanwhile fellow SET member, columnist and TV pundit, Natasha Devon, says: “The statistics on young people and self-esteem tend to focus on girls, because young women are more likely to stop themselves from partaking in activities because of low self-worth and therefore their struggles are more tangible.
“But if you think about it, that means lots of their male counterparts are just soldiering on, pretending everything’s okay, despite having low self-worth and that comes with its own unique set of challenges. It’s important we don’t just include men and boys in a tokenistic way when we discuss mental health and self-esteem.
“That’s why we want to give men an opportunity to discuss the things that worry them and difficulties they face. We’re simply providing a platform to enable them to do that.”
Throughout the week, The Self-Esteem Team will be encouraging conversations amongst men online using the hashtag #MENtalhealth.
Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind, reveals: “Men account for more than three quarters of suicides and yet research from Mind suggests that almost a third of men would be embarrassed about seeking help for a mental health problem.
“Less than a quarter of men would visit their GP if they felt down for more than two weeks, in comparison to a third of women.
“We are getting better at talking about mental health and when high profile people speak out about their own wellbeing it inspires others to do the same.”
By engaging fans in the issues that surround mental health problems, celebrities are helping to “break down stigma” and “inspire people to get support when they need it”.
“However, there is still a long way to go,” adds Buckley.
“Mental Health Awareness week is the perfect opportunity to start those conversations – to talk to friends and family about mental health, about your own experiences, or just to ask those close to you how they’re doing.”
If you’ve been affected by the issues in this article, please call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.