By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director
From family dynamics and support roles to contributing to diversity and inclusiveness in our community, men play a pivotal role in all aspects of life.
June 14 – 20 is Men’s Health Week, and at IMPACT we want to shine a light on the importance of men in our lives.
They are our husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, sons, grandfathers, and grandchildren.
They contribute to the way we are all raised, and the way we ultimately see the world as developing humans.
This is why it is so important to support our men and ensure they can be their best selves possible.
Men have historically been dealt the role of the provider, and as a result were often thrown into a cycle that didn’t take into account their mental health and wellness.
They were the bread winners; the protectors that presented a tough exterior and a strong backbone for the family unit.
They weren’t encouraged to talk about their feelings or emotions and learnt to bottle up any sentiment and disregard it as trivial.
So grew the stigma, shame and silence; a perceived weakness that men wouldn’t be “real men” if they opened up about their struggles.
Thankfully times have changed, and we now know how damaging that behaviour truly can be.
National events such as Men’s Health Week provide an opportunity to raise these conversations and encourage and educate people about the work that is yet to be done.
It’s important that the men in our lives feel included and that their health and mental health is as important as everyone else’s.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and we all need to work together to make sure the stigma stops.
Speaking up is not a weakness.
We need to change societal views that it’s not only okay for men to speak up, but that it’s encouraged.
A fantastic resource is the Head to Health website that offers a host of tools that are easy, accessible, practical and educational.
There are also some great community groups available for men who might not feel comfortable talking to close friends or family but could open up to others facing their own troubles.
There are also services available that offer face-to-face, phone or online support.
By encouraging men to open up, we are also educating younger men and children that it’s good to talk through our feelings.
Men take their own lives at four times the rate of women, which is five men a day, on average. This is unacceptable.
The statistics for marginalised groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, refugees, men in prison or recently released, and men of lower socioeconomic status are even worse.
To be great supporters, men need to be greatly supported.
Let’s ensure our men, young and old, are given a voice, are heard, and are allowed the space to communicate their feelings openly and honestly without being told to “toughen up” or “stop crying”.
Expressing emotion is a normal behaviour for all people.
Together, we can create environments where men have the confidence to speak up and the tools to assess and assist their mental wellness.
For more information visit menshealthweek.org.au.
It’s time to remove the stigma and support men to improve their lives.