Ending the stigma: men go online to tackle mental health

Blokes & Their Mental Health are an online group supporting men to prioritise their mental health. Image: Facebook.
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Online groups are normalising the conversation by encouraging men to support one another, seek help and talk about their mental health. Tim McGrath reports.

A fast-growing Facebook page is providing a platform for men to speak their mind and provide support for one another’s mental health and wellbeing.

The Blokes & Their Mental Health page was created in early January and has quickly grown to more than 24,000 members.

Page admin Sam Rintoule said everyone struggled sometimes.

“It’s really good to see that these blokes are taking it upon themselves to start a conversation,” he said. “The day-to-day reality is everyone struggles with something at some point.”

Ending the stigma: men go online to tackle mental health
Suffering in silence, 28 per cent of men admit to not seeking medical help for mental health. Image: 2ser.com

The Mental Health Foundation found men are less likely to seek medical support for their mental health problems.

Their 2016 YouGov study revealed that, of 2500 responders who had experienced mental health problems, 28 per cent of men admitted to not seeking medical help compared to 19 per cent of women.

Mr Rintoule agreed men could be unwilling or scared to talk about their mental health.

“There’s always been this mentality that men should just get on with it, they have to suck it up and we’re the tough side of the gender bias,” he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought lockdowns, panic and intense uncertainty into the lives of Australians.

MensLine Australia reported that mental health calls increased by 95 per cent during July and August of 2020 when border restrictions were reintroduced and the Victorian stage four lockdown came into effect.

Swinburne’s Centre for Mental Health Collate Project tracked the rates of depression, anxiety and stress among Australians during the pandemic, said researcher Dr Eric Tan.

The results found negative emotions were exceptionally high among Australians as a result of the pandemic.

Ending the stigma: men go online to tackle mental health
Finding friends you can rely on: online forums are creating safe spaces for men to support each other and their mental wellbeing. Image: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash.

Fellow Blokes page admin David Nancarrow, who has been studying psychology and human behaviour for the past 12 years, said there was a lack of connection because of the coronavirus.

He said he saw Blokes & Their Mental Health as a way to create a kind of “tribal gathering” that had been lacking in many men’s lives.

While Mr Nancarrow said the discussion around men’s mental health had improved, both he and Mr Rintoule thought there was more that could be done.

“The more we look for help, the better things will get,” he said. 

Mr Rintoule said he wanted more high-profile people to shine the light on men’s mental health.

“If we have the right people advocating for such an important conversation, then all of a sudden the stigma starts to get lifted,” he said.