Dr Tanya Carpenter is a lecturer on our Counselling Psychology BSc (Hons) degree within The School of Psychology. Tanya is an HCPC registered and BPS Chartered Counselling Psychologist. She has been in clinical practice within the NHS, private practice and university counselling services. In this International Men's Day Academic Blog, she talks to us about supporting men's mental health.
It would be difficult to write an article on men’s mental health these days without it seeming trite; most of us have now seen the research that suggests that men are less likely to talk about their feelings, less likely to seek support for mental health difficulties  and, as a result of not seeking help, are more likely to take their lives . Perhaps then International Men’s Day gives us the opportunity to reflect on how, whatever our gender identification, we can all be a part of the solution.
If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we all suffer; that includes men. Even those that seem like they have it together and are strong and tough. If there is one way we can all be part of the solution to turning the tables on the pressure on men to stay silent when it comes to their mental health, it’s by listening and trying to understand. Think of the boys and men in your life and think about how you can best listen to them.
- Do they want you to give them advice?
- Do they need you to just listen whilst they get something off their chest?
- Do they need you to help reflect back their feelings to them so they can make sense? Tailoring your approach to listening can be a really important way to make someone feel safe about talking to you.
Check in frequently with those you care about. Give male friends, family and colleagues every opportunity to really say what’s going on for them, especially now when everyone is more isolated from one another, make sure no-one gets left behind. Send messages, pictures or any kind of note to let someone know you are thinking of them.
It is well known that social media has created for all of us a world of opportunity but also a world of comparison, falling short, envy and feelings of inferiority. Finding social media accounts which resonate with male mental health issues could be key to opening up space to be validated and to talk more. It also raises awareness to issues which men suffer with many of which are very much unspoken and kept in the dark.
John F. Kennedy once said ‘one person can make a difference, and everyone should try’, breaking down the barriers to men feeling able to talk, share and get support should be a task we are all involved in and if we can just do one thing to help, we should certainly try.
 The role of masculinity in men's help-seeking for depression: A systematic review
 Information on Male Suicide in the UK
Dr Tanya Carpenter teaches at both undergraduate and Masters level in The School of Psychology. Students looking for support with their mental health can contact our Firstpoint Team in order to book and manage appointments with our Counselling and Mental Health Services.