For whatever reason, a lot of people find it hard to talk about mental health. Yet, whether or not you are aware of it, it is something that affects all of us either directly or indirectly, and it is a major important health issue which should not be ignored. This is especially true for men since as boys we are taught to "take it like a man" ... "boys don't cry" ... and just "suck it up". The reality is life sucks and it's even more confusing today for most men. On one hand we are told that we need to be less masculine, softer spoken, less aggressive - but we are still expected to be rugged individuals able to take a physical or emotional punch without flinching. This leads to some deep mental health issues with many of us, but there are things we can to do help improve our mental health.
There are so many kinds of mental health problems and issues that it is hard to know what you should exactly do about them at any one time, but in general a good start is to raise your own awareness of these issues to begin with - and the awareness of those around you. Do that, and you might find that you can approach the subject much more easily, and it could form a bedrock for looking after your health on the whole in the future.
Find Male Companionship Where You Can Talk Open and Honestly
Every guy needs another man that they can open up to. This could be a club, sports team, or even an online friend that you play video games with. Sometimes you just need someone who's there for you to talk and who you know has your back if you ever need help. While our wives and partners can be supportive, there are a lot of topics that other men are simply better to share with or ask for advice from.
Learning About Mental Health
First of all, it might be worth doing what you can to learn some about mental health and how it can affect people. By showing such an interest, you are likely to be able to be there for those around you much more effectively, and you should find that it is also easier to look after your own mental health should you ever need to as well. There are many ways you can learn more about mental health, and thanks to the Internet it is now easier than ever. At one extreme, you have the possibility of getting a masters in clinical mental health counseling - but that might be overkill. You might just want to take a short course online or read up on some of the most common mental health issues instead. As long as you are educating yourself, that is all that matters.
De-stressing Is Key to Improving Mental Health
Arguably one of the most vital things anyone can do about their mental health or the mental health of those around them is to try and keep stress to an absolute minimum. Stress is good in that it motivates men but you need time to de-stress too. This is often difficult to do because the race never seems to end. There's always one more report to complete, one more kid to put into bed, one more family vacation to make money to pay for. However, as long as you prioritize time to de-stress then you will find that there are plenty of ways to make it work. Keeping stress at bay is something that you can find to be enormously satisfying, and it makes a huge difference to anybody’s mental health, so be sure to think about that as much as you can. You will find that it really does make a huge difference.
This time to de-stress doesn't have to be a frilly spa appointment or yoga (though both are great choices for men as well as women!) Instead, look for something that fits your personality. Maybe it's fishing in a cold mountain stream or maybe it's golfing with your buddies. For me, I find that time spent on a long airplane flight gives me time to de-stress since I am not in front of my computer and even though I have a phone with wifi access I generally don't use it. That's my time to just close my eyes and decompress. I'm weird that way maybe but this is just one example of how important it is to find your own happy place!
Be a Part of a Community
One of the best ways to counter any mental illness is to spend time with others, in particular those you are especially close to. Doing so has a way of opening you up so that you can be much more likely to experience life with joy, and it means that you also have a support network should you ever need one - which can be one of the exacerbating factors if you do ever find yourself in the grip of a mental illness. Remember that mental illness can happen to anyone, and as long as you have people around you, it will generally be much easier to manage.