HEALTH

Un-Mute, Listen Up And Ask The Men In Your Life How They're Doing

Sometimes a meaningful conversation can change someone's life.

07/09/2017 5:28 PM AEST | Updated 08/09/2017 3:27 PM AEST
MOVEMBER FOUNDATION

In a world where there's always 100 things vying for our attention at any given time, it can be hard to genuinely listen when we ask our mates how they are.

Indeed, it's all too common that we assume everything's 'all good' before moving onto the next thing that we need to get done.

But sometimes we need to stop ploughing through life on auto-pilot and make an effort to listen -- because it could make a huge difference to the life of someone who's struggling.

In a powerful campaign launched by the Movember Foundation, videos disguised as 'how to' demonstrations are hoping to encourage more open conversations around men's mental health.

The network around men currently do not reach out enough to ask how guys are really going.

As the clips start playing subtitles appear that seemingly mirror the actions of the men in them, but it's only when they're un-muted that the viewer gets a completely different story -- one where the men aren't fixing a tyre or rigging a fishing line, but are beginning to show signs they're struggling.

The message is clear: ask how the men in your life are doing, listen to what they're saying and stop assuming that everything is okay.

"Our research has shown that whilst 70 percent of men say they are there for their friends when they need support, only 48 percent are prepared to go to someone when they're struggling themselves -- bringing to life the need for those around men to take themselves off 'mute' and start the conversation," the Foundation's global director, Craig Martin, said.

"The network around men currently do not reach out enough to ask how guys are really going. We can all play a part in reducing the rate of male suicide by sparking a potentially life-changing conversation -- the simple first step is just to ask and listen."

There's no denying that Australia is currently at a crisis point with suicide, and while there's no section of society that's immune to mental illness, statistics show that men are three times more likely to take their lives than women.

If we teach men to always be tough, to be stoic, to not show pain, then we stuff up men's physical and emotional health

Dr Michael Flood, sociologist on men and masculinities, previously told HuffPost Australia that there's "still a powerful ideal of what it means to be a man", making conversations around mental health difficult.

"It's the idea that to be a man is to be tough, to be strong, to be invulnerable, to be heterosexual, to be in control, to avoid feelings and so on," he said.

"If we teach men to always be tough, to be stoic, to not show pain, then we stuff up men's physical and emotional health, we limit men's friendships with other man and women, we limit men's relationships and we limit men's participation in society."

The 'Unmute - Ask him' campaign hopes to encourage open conversations around men's mental health as part of the Movember Foundation's mission to reduce the rate of male suicides.

Movember's tips to start conversations with men:

1. Ask how they are doing

2. Listen without judgment

3. Encourage action

4. Check in regularly

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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