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Men’s Mental Health Essentials, This Movember

Ceramic cup of coffee with a felt moustache and glasses on the background of a stack of books

It’s Movember 2022 – and whether you’re growing a moustache, moving more, or you’re supporting a Movember fundraiser, we’re cheering you on. Since opening in 2019, Help Me Stop has treated hundreds of men in our non-residential Dayhabs and our Online Rehab, providing intensive treatment for harmful drinking or drug taking. We know the battle, when it comes to men’s mental health, and there is still so much work to do. Call 0208 191 9191 or contact us here to talk about intensive, affordable rehab for alcohol or drugs.

For Movember, we asked some of the men on our team for their top tips for men’s mental health and addiction recovery. We are also shining the light on people and organisations who are going the extra mile for men’s mental health. A massive Movember shout out to: Movember UK; ManGang in Hampshire; all the 12-step addiction recovery meetings for men; specialist addiction therapist Simon Marks, who runs A Change of Scene; and Men’s Radio Station, which is dedicated to mental health and wellbeing. There are so many more doing great work too.

Our Top 8 Tips for Men’s Mental Health and Addiction Recovery

1. Speak up.

It might sound obvious, but it’s straight in at number one: do not keep problems to yourself. Men don’t open up as readily about their problems and feelings as women. We still have a long way to go for the message to get through, and to stick. Research by Movember showed that 38% of men have avoided talking to others about how they feel, so as not to appear unmanly. 43% of men wish they could talk more to others about their personal problems.

2. Stress is NOT supposed to be a permanent state.

It can be a false badge of honour, pushing non-stop to achieve the next goal, fuelled by adrenaline, being ‘high-functioning’ in a high-powered world. If stress becomes the norm, then alcohol and drugs can easily become a crutch to wind down. Stress often goes hand in hand with insomnia, which compounds the problem.

3. Avoidance is not the answer

You can’t outrun an addiction. Minimising mental health difficulties is like putting a plaster on an infected wound. At Help Me Stop, we often see clients who have been avoiding the key issues for some time. For example, they have been working very hard, or they have been fixing on food, sex, exercise, or spending money – trying to feel better inside. These are all short term fixes. They won’t solve an addiction or mental health condition.

4. Ask yourself: is it self-control, or is it the grip of addiction?

Denial keeps people unwell for longer than necessary. Ask yourself, is it really self-control to be thinking so much about when, what, and how much you drink? Is it self-control to be planning meticulously when you can next take cocaine, or smoke a joint? The mental obsession to drink or use drugs is very real, and it becomes increasingly punishing as addiction progresses. It’s why people pick up drink and drugs, even when they know how harmful it is – self-control ceases to work in the grips of addiction. Get in touch for help.

5. Stopping alcohol or drugs is not the problem, it’s staying stopped.

Always, underneath harmful drinking or drug-taking, there are psychological factors that require specialist treatment. It’s usually not enough to just get an alcohol detox or drug detox – you need psychological help and strategies to stay stopped.

6. Consider a therapist in the same way as a personal trainer

Men don’t bat an eyelid about taking on a personal trainer at the gym. Think about therapy in the same way, as a workout for the mind.

7. It’s okay to feel sad and cry

Mastery of emotions is the ability to express them all, without fear of what other people think. By talking about your sadness, you come to terms with it. Strength and resilience grows through facing emotions head on.

8. Let’s bin forever the phrase ‘man up’

You are more than enough. Let go of false expectations and release the unbearable pressure. Be yourself.

Men’s Health: 5 Things for Men to Know and Do from Movember UK

There’s a clear and simple guide to men’s health on Movember UK’s website, covering 5 key things that men should know and do now, to improve their health. By taking action in these areas, many common health issues that affect men physically and mentally are entirely preventable, or they can treated more effectively. The Movember men’s health tips are summarised here.

1. Spend time with people who make you feel good.

Your mates are important and spending time with them is good for you.

2. Talk, more.

You don’t need to be an expert to listen and give time, and it can be life-saving.

3. Know thy numbers (about prostate cancer)

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the UK. If you’re 50, it’s time to chat to your doctor about prostate cancer, including whether it’s time to get a test. If you’re of African or Caribbean descent, or your father or brother had prostate cancer, you should talk to your doctor at 45.

4. Know thy nuts. Simple.

Check your testicles regularly, and go to the doctor as soon as possible if something doesn’t feel right

5. Move, more.

Add more activity to each day for better physical health and mental health.

It’s Not Too Weak to Speak – A Short Documentary about ManGang

We’re also highlighting the brilliant ManGang here, a network of men in Hampshire who share this belief: it’s not weak to speak. The aim of ManGang is to show that no matter your background, you are not alone in suffering from poor mental health, and you definitely do not have to feel alone when dealing with it.

ManGang’s CEO, Andy Bishop, leads by example, having had his own personal experience of losing a friend to suicide, as well as experiencing mental ill health himself. Andy said, ‘When I launched the ManGang, it was launched with the aim of helping one bloke, who sent me a message that said, ‘I need help.’ Since then, we’ve held that as our motto. We just want to reach just one bloke, and help them come to terms with whatever it is that’s troubling them, and not to make a permanent decision over a temporary problem.’

CEO of ManGang UK, Andy Bishop, raising his hand to ask a question at Help Me Stop Winchester launch
The CEO of ManGang, Andy Bishop, a VIP guest at Help Me Stop Winchester launch

Watch ManGang’s short film here, or click to find out about ManGang’s meetings in Hampshire.

12-Step Addiction Recovery Meetings for Men

The main 12-step fellowships for people with alcohol addiction or drug addiction have a number of meetings for men only. These meetings can be really helpful for men who want to talk to other men, sharing experiences that are pertinent to their addiction and recovery. Contact Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous, to find out where the nearest men’s meeting is for you, either face-to-face or online.

Simon Marks, Addiction Therapist

Simon is is an addiction therapist, drama therapist, and a leading specialist in LGBTQ mental health, trauma reduction, and chemsex support. In July, Simon wrote a brilliant guest blog for Help Me Stop: O Superman! Growing Up Gay and Discovering Codependence. Growing up in the 1980s, an era of overt homophobia across the social and political spectrum, Simon faced horrendous bullying at school, and turned to fantasy and addiction to cope. Simon credits his recovery to Pia Mellody’s life-changing therapeutic approach to codependence, which he was introduced to via therapist David Smallwood.

Growing Up Gay in the 1980s and Discovering Codependence with Simon Marks

Simon runs A Change Of Scene, which is a free forum for gay and bisexual men to share their lives and experiences. If drink or drugs are starting to take over your life, or you’re feeling isolated and depressed in a crowded bar, it’s a great place to be seen and heard for who you really are.

Men’s Radio Station

Finally, a big shout out to the team at Men’s Radio Station, who broadcast some fantastic conversations around men’s health issues. They talk in depth with guests from all walks of life, including qualified experts who share their knowledge and skills about men’s physical and emotional wellbeing. It’s a great station that absolutely doesn’t shy away from the deep dive into common health-related issues for men, including mental health problems. On their website, they highlight the fact that many men suffer in silence and feel isolated, and that the suicide rate for me is alarmingly high. So tune in and check them out.

We were lucky enough to join Men’s Radio Station for an hour-long broadcast on addiction, treatment and recovery. From 08.57 in, hear from Chris Cordell, Help Me Stop Managing Director, followed by Help Me Stop clients, Cameron (from 11.55) and Patrick (from 23.23).

For confidential, affordable, addiction help in our London Dayhabs, Winchester Rehab, and our Online Rehab, get in touch. Call  0208 191 9191 or contact us here to talk about how our programme helps people to stop drinking alcohol and stay stopped.

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