What to do if a man you know is suffering from depression


Nidhi Singh

Psychology Associate

America recognizes June as Men's mental health month.

Men’s mental health issues often go unnoticed. Men are often unable to express their mental health issues due to societal norms. There is this stereotypical image of men never seeking help from anyone. But we have forgotten that men too can feel depressed and emotional. Men are more likely to use (and die from) illegal drugs. Men are less likely to access psychological therapy than women. Only 36% of referrals to IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) are men.

There is no doubt that mental health is inseparable from physical health, as people with the highest levels of self-rated distress (compared to lowest rates of distress) were 3.2% more likely to have died from cancer. Depression has been found to be associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Often men who are vocal about their mental health are assumed as weak by the fraternity and are categorized as broken and or flawed. This macho attitude of stuffing feelings down, or ignoring them, is antiquated and downright dangerous. Not talking about mental health silently kills men too.

It is acceptable to get overwhelmed by feelings but sometimes one has to heal by oneself. Very basic self-help could be done just by aiming for sufficient sleep, keeping stress in check, spending some time in nature, listing what one likes about oneself. There are other ways too like reading a good book, watching a funny movie or TV show.

It is also important to walk away if one starts getting too angry in a stressful situation that involves another person; in such a scenario one must end the conversation, take some space, and not resume talking until calm.

National Institute of Mental Health suggests few tips on how to support a man with depression:

1. Engage him in conversation and listen carefully. Do not disparage the feelings he expresses, but do point out realities and offer hope.

2. Invite him for walks, outings, and other activities. Be gently insistent if your invitation is refused.

3. Encourage participation in activities that once gave pleasure, such as hobbies, sports, or cultural activities, but do not push him to undertake too much too soon.

4. Do not expect him ‘to snap out of it.' Instead, keep reassuring him that, with time and help, he will feel better.

5. You may need to monitor whether he is taking prescribed medication or attending therapy.

We can't ‘fix’ someone else's depression, but sometimes simply assuring that someone is there for them helps a lot. If required, help from a qualified mental health professional should be sought.

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