We need to talk about men and mental health

Sad man sitting on beach
Image: iStock

Content warning: depression and suicide(brief mention)

Mental health is a topic that has hit the spotlight again. This year started with a tragic death of Akubra child model Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, who took her own life after relentless cyber – bullying.

I firmly believe that bullying is something that needs to be taken more seriously, but that discussion isn’t for this post. I want to talk about mental health and men.

 

News came out late last month that Australian tennis player, Bernard Tomic, left the jungle in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here after less than forty – eight hours. He admitted that he was depressed.

The reactions, to be frank, have been quite appalling. People both within and outside the media has attacked Tomic’s sudden departure. At least one has backed off.

Good on Fordham for having the humility to retract his statement. Yet, I’m saddened that this has turned into a debate.

So, he’s made arrogant comments about ‘counting’ his ‘millions’. According to Jessie Stephens from Mamamia, suggested that Tomic had shown symptoms long before the I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

Tomic was condemned last year for expressing his desire to want to quit tennis. Loss of interest in once – enjoyed activities is one common sign of depression.

Now, of course, Tomic needs to be diagnosed by a professional, not the general public or journalists. But what has annoyed me is the dismissive attitude people have had. Why has it sparked so much scrutiny? Have we gone backwards in our attitudes toward mental health, especially in men? I really hope not, considering that men are more than twice as likely to die by suicide than women, according to Mindframe, who used Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data in from 1989 to 2016. Over – representation of men in suicide statistics is consistent across all States and Territories and Aboriginal and non – Aboriginal people alike.

 

Anyone suffering mental health issues, including anxiety and depression should have access to necessary treatment without shame. On a similar note, I want to talk about another criticism that Tomic has copped about ‘self – diagnosis’. Most people know in their heart when something isn’t right. Many symptoms of depression can be picked up by the sufferer or their families. There are online questionnaires you can take that may help give an indication of whether you maybe showing depressive symptoms or not. Of course, these tests can not take the place of a professional diagnosis, but it may spur someone to seek out an official diagnosis and treatment.

So, can we please give Bernard Tomic and anyone else who is (or potentially is) suffering a mental illness a break? Can we offer them a bit of compassion, regardless of who they are? The stigma needs to stop. Period.

If you or anyone else is suffering mental illness or is struggling or concerned, you can contact Lifeline: 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 or www.beyondblue.org.au if you prefer a webchat. For emergencies call 000 or seek medical help immediately. 

If your from another country, please feel free to put contact details of any national mental health or suicide prevention hotlines in your country. 

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