Talking about Men's mental health

 Dec 07, 2016

As we've just ended Mental Health Month, I want to congratulate the New Horizons staff on a great contribution to Movember, both through raising awareness and raising funds. Well done team!

In 2015, the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) showed that people aged 25-29, 25% (approximately) of males died from suicide compared to 7% (approximately) for females. Statistics show men are less likely to reach out for help fearing it would affect their masculinity. This results in delayed diagnoses of many issues, including depression. And sometimes, resulting in high mortality rates due to suicide. There were similar results for people aged 30-34 (males 23% (approximately) compared to 7% (approximately) for females. These are alarming rates and they clearly require attention as well as action.

Before I share some helpful information on this matter, let me introduce myself. My name is Sophie Tsiodras and I am the receptionist at New Horizons in Melbourne. In 2015, I graduated from Deakin University with a Health Science Degree with three majors - one of them being psychology. I have also completed a certificate IV in mental health. I decided to shed some awareness on this matter as I am passionate about mental health.

In this blog, I will discuss mental health in men, explain what the two most prevalent mental illnesses are, and provide some guidance with getting help.

Depression and generalised anxiety are the most common mental illnesses. According to the DSM-IV (the bible of mental illnesses), depression is when an individual has Depressed mood and/or loss of interest or pleasure in life activities for at least 2 weeks and at least five of the following symptoms that cause clinically significant impairment in social, work, or other important areas of functioning almost every day: Depressed mood most of the day, Diminished interest or pleasure in all or most activities, Significant unintentional weight loss or gain, Insomnia or sleeping too much, Agitation or psychomotor retardation noticed by others, Fatigue or loss of energy, Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, Recurrent thoughts of death.

In contrast, Generalised Anxiety is defined as “The presence of excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of topics, events, or activities. Worry occurs more often than not for at least 6 months and is clearly excessive”. Unfortunately, people with depression are more likely to experience anxiety because they co-occur with one another. In health terms, having two or more illnesses that co-occur is called “co-morbidity”. Other examples of co-morbidity include post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia. If you feel you may be experiencing some of these symptoms, getting help is easier and cheaper than you think.

Consulting your GP should be the first step. Requesting to be put on a Health care plan means you would be sent to a psychologist. Sessions with a psychologist may not be free, however clients are entitled to 10 Medicare rebates annually. You can also use resources such as Headspace and beyond blue. You can ring them up directly and talk to someone again, for free or you can chat to them online if you prefer. In severe cases, you may be subscribed anti-depressants which have dopamine and serotonin in them (these are your happy neurotransmitters in your brain) or in some cases, health professionals may use electrical stimulation to maintain dopamine and serotonin levels.

I hope this this information has been helpful and that you have learnt something new! I have put some links to places that can help:

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About the Author:

Sophie Tsiodras  

Sophie currently works at New Horizons as the receptionist in Melbourne. Having worked with children for 7 years, she decided to get out of her comfort zone and try something different. Despite having to adjust to the corporate setting, she is enjoying meeting new people and learning about the variety of organisations that train with New Horizons. Sophie has a Health Degree with 3 majors (Psychology, Nutrition and Physical Activity) as well as a Certificate IV in Mental Health. She hopes to use her qualifications in the future by either promoting health or even assist people reach their optimal health.

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