Ask The Expert

This month we focus on Men’s Mental Health. Nyran Bird, one of ToHealth’s Health and Wellness Experts, answers questions on how to – as a male – best protect yourself, your mental health and the mental health of those around you as we move towards a significant easing of restrictions whilst living with COVID-19.

Supporting Men’s Health & Wellbeing

1. My feelings about the easing of restriction differ to those of my colleagues. How do I best support my mental state as I hear attitudes and beliefs that I find unrelatable?

Where possible, be open to listening. It can be helpful for your own mental state to consider where your attitudes and beliefs stem from. Once you understand this, you may find that being receptive to those of others presents an alternative but useful perspective. I’m not saying that you must change your views but rather remain open to hearing those that differ. Resistance to change tends to lead to more negative feelings and emotions which over time, can result in a downward spiral. Understanding the roots of your attitudes and beliefs can enable you to successfully move forward.

2. I have read that excessive alcohol consumption can raise my risk of disease and exacerbate mental health issues. Besides reducing my alcohol consumption, what else can I do to support a healthier me?

Review your lifestyle. Regular physical activity can not only help to maintain a healthy BMI and waistline, it has also long been recognised as a proven method to reduce the risk of diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Spending time in your local park, woodland or countryside walking, jogging or cycling are not only physically beneficial but can dramatically improve your psychological health. Enjoy the warmer weather, get outdoors and get moving.

3. I feel anxious about hygiene and constantly worry that everything I touch is contaminated. Am I overreacting?

Hand-washing anxiety, which is considered to be excessive washing of hands or worry that all surfaces/handles are contaminated, has been recognised by mental health charities.

Whilst a YouGov survey found that most people have taken steps to improve personal hygiene, only 67% of men were practicing this daily. It is important to continue to practice good hygiene and in an effort to manage your anxiety, consider a routine that works for you and carry sanitiser in situations where you won’t have access to a sink with soap.

4. As a boy, I was raised not to discuss mental health and just ‘get on with things’. Why start worrying about it now?

In England, around one in eight men experience mental health issues including depression, anxiety, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). That’s significant. This past year has seen increased levels of stress, anxiety and worry particularly by those who have been furloughed or lost their employment. Experiencing mental health problems in addition to this, may be especially difficult. Early intervention is key at managing mental health issues, so please don’t wait. Talk about your mental health and if you’re concerned that you’re developing a problem, let your GP or your workplace EAP know so that you can receive the support you need.

Nyran Bird is an experienced Health & Wellness Expert with a demonstrated history of working in the Health, Fitness & Wellbeing sector.