The death rate for men from Covid is twice as high as that for women. This feels immediately shocking and very worrying for men. We don’t yet fully know the reason for this difference in mortality for males but the statistics to date are showing this to be real.
We are also beginning to understand the importance of the impact of mental health.
The impact of these factors in relation to men is very worrying. There is a crisis emerging for men’s mental health at this time. It is a time of isolation bringing on anxieties and depression and great worries about possible job losses and the real fear for what the future will look like.
This comes when there was already a big gap between men and women’s experience.
Whilst, overall in society, there is a positive move in terms of openness in talking about mental health and alleviation of stigma. There does remain still a reluctance amongst the male population to wish to discuss these matters openly.
I can see a phenomenon much more amongst my male clients of having been unable to share worries and fears with friends or family. This may be through shame or fear of the response from their support network. Men continue to hold the patriarchal belief that they should be the provider for their families. This obviously becomes difficult during times of economic stress and uncertainty such as at present.
During previous economic crises, there have been recorded incidences of increasing rates of suicide. For instance, between 2008 – 2010 academics estimated that 1000 excess death occurred as a result of the economic crisis. There are now fears that this pattern will occur.
When you feel isolated, worried about the threats to our health from the world outside, but at the same time confused and angry about official guidance, and unsure about the security of one’s job and livelihood; right now everything can feel overwhelming. The situation overall perhaps may not look all that bright.
So how do we discover change?
One of my recent clients experiencing change was Gary*. Gary began seeing me online towards the end of the lockdown in June reporting he was feeling stress. It became apparent with Gary that he was experiencing high levels of anger, a symptom that appears common amongst many men who are stressed. Whilst expressing his feelings of anger towards perceived government incompetence, corporate levels of management, as well as minor domestic concerns, it was Gary’s view that anger was natural and could be helpful as a release.
Firstly I helped Gary to understand that anger serves as a negative emotion, with research showing that the physical risks it brings include heart attack and high blood pressure. Gary began to enjoy the possibility of change through relaxing hypnotherapy. The bigger shift emerged for him when at the end of our sessions, the weight of problems that he felt and thought were happening to him, he arrived to find that it was only his thinking that was creating them. Through our hypnotherapy sessions, he found this discovery so he learned that he could be free and move forward to guide his own action rather than feel fear and resentment.
As we think of how Gary was able to find change from a situation where he was suffering, we are mindful in this time when we are all prone to anxiety, we can begin by being present within the moment and finding how we have control over our situation.
Of course, there are many more people in vulnerable situations where individuals do not at present have the ability or the awareness to reach out and seek help like Gary. So what to do if you think that someone you know or is close to is struggling. Here are some ways to begin to help them to potentially move forward:
Connect: In so far as it is safe and allowed, meet up with the person rather than, texting and email. Perhaps open a conversation – ‘I can see you are feeling low’ or ‘Do you want to tell me what is bothering you?’
Let them talk on their basis, whether this be saying little about their situation or talking at length. Do not interrupt or make assumptions.
If they disclose difficulties to you offer help in seeking professional support. This could be a referral to a GP or an appropriate therapist of their choosing. It might be appropriate to help them to get to their appointment but not to take control.
As we begin to take an understanding of our own needs and the needs of others around us we can gradually help improve our wellbeing at this difficult time.
* The name and identity has been changed for confidentiality purposes.