Better mental health for men and boys is top of mind on International Men’s Day
International Men’s Day is celebrated in at least 60 countries around the world on 19 November, and aims to address wide issues relevant to men in a gender-inclusive way. Every year, it’s marked by more and more women, men and organisations across Wales and the UK.
In the UK, this year’s theme is ‘Better health for men and boys’.
International Men’s Day in the UK takes a gender-inclusive approach, and therefore believes in ensuring that issues affecting women and girls are also resolved. It recognises the intersection between gender and other factors, such as race and sexuality, which can compound the inequalities affecting men and boys.
The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, said:
“International Men’s Day is an important opportunity to highlight the problems and issues which men continue to face, both here in Wales and around the globe. It gets people talking and supporting each other – and that is such an important step.
“We know some issues affect men and women differently. We know that mental health, loneliness and isolation are not solely issues for men, but we also know that men are often less likely to seek help when they need it.
“Gender stereotyping cannot and should not be ignored. It is an enduring issue which underpins so much of our lives, whether we realise it or not. From the day we are born, it can influence the clothes we wear; the toys we play with; the subjects we study; our personality traits, confidence levels, choice of hobbies and social activities; our role in the family, and our choice of career.”
Paul, a construction worker, said:
"I’ve worked in the construction industry for 40 years. It is hard, physical work against the clock, which takes its toll on your body, but it’s also lonely work, which takes its toll on your mind.
“Over the years, I’ve spent weeks and months at a time working away from home, with people I don’t know well. There’s a certain ‘macho’ image to uphold – you can’t just say to a male work-mate: “Hey, I’m feeling a bit down today.” It isn’t right, but I’d get laughed off site.
“As I get older, I’m also aware that I’m getting slower. Of course that’s a worry – if I can’t keep working, I won’t get paid, and can’t look after my family. Depression is a familiar part of my everyday life, and yes, I’ve thought about suicide.”
Men’s Sheds are one way Welsh Government has been supporting men like Paul.
Jane Hutt continued:
“The Sheds combine social activities with tackling serious issues, and get people talking and supporting each other.
“The success of the Men’s Sheds movement around the world shows just how effective this approach can be. It’s a simple idea which has the power to transform lives.
“We have also provided a grant of £47,000 to the DPJ Foundation – a rural mental health charity – to extend its existing 1-2-1 counselling into North Wales, ensuring the service is available right across Wales.
“We all need to be aware of the damage caused by mental health and wellbeing issues, and to tackle these issues to ensure that our future generations are not limited or harmed by them.
“Mental health and loneliness can affect us all - regardless of age, gender, status or location. If we don’t seek the help we need, the impact on our wellbeing can be devastating.”
The Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan, said:
“I recognise how difficult it is for people to talk about their mental health – particularly for men. We have set out a range of actions in our Together for Mental Health Delivery Plan and our suicide prevention strategy, Talk to Me Two, to reduce stigma and encourage people to seek help for their mental wellbeing.
“We are also supporting a number of programs focused on men’s mental health, such as the LetsTalkMensMentalhealth campaign on social media. We have made a wide range of self-help resources available online or over the phone to encourage more people to access support.
“This year, more than ever, for today’s International Men’s Day let’s focus on ensuring all men are supported with their mental wellbeing. Reach out and speak to your friends and family, and encourage others to do the same.”
Notes to editors
Notes for editors
Men have a suicide rate which is three times higher than women, while up to one in three men have reportedly been victims of domestic abuse.
Men in the UK are still dying four years sooner than women. On average; 12 men each day take their own lives; 90 per cent of rough sleepers are men; 95 per cent of the prison population is male; seven out of ten murder victims are male; girls are outperforming boys at every stage of education; women are a third more likely to go to university than men; young men account for 70 per cent of long-term youth unemployment; male graduates are 50 per cent more likely to be unemployed; men in their twenties are earning less than their female peers; 96 per cent of people who die at work are male.
Certain industries, like agriculture and construction, are predominantly male, and have much higher than average suicide rates. Both involve people working long hours, largely in isolation. These factors have a direct negative impact on the mental health of workers.
Building finishing trades, including plasterers, painters and decorators, had a suicide risk twice the national average, and the risk for low-skilled workers in process plant operations was 2.6 times higher. The agricultural sector also carried an elevated risk for men, more than 1.5 times above the average for both low-skilled and high-skilled workers.
Men’s Sheds originated in Australia in the late 1990’s in order to overcome problems of isolation leading to declining health. Men’s Sheds have developed a strong social identity of support and friendship.
Hafan Cymru brought the concept to Wales to meet the challenges of loneliness, isolation and an ageing population.
Men’s Sheds are any community-based, non-profit, non-commercial organisation that is accessible to all men and whose primary activity is the provision of a safe and friendly environment where men are able to work on projects at their own pace in their own time, and boost their own health and wellbeing, in the company of other men.
They represent safe and nurturing places within communities. The positive outcomes are numerous and include improvements in mental and physical health, reductions in loneliness and isolation, physically regenerated places in communities and improved community cohesion.
Men’s Sheds are the recipients of a grant funding worth £158,373 over three years from the Welsh Government to develop a pilot scheme addressing some of the mental health challenges facing men in Wales.
There are currently more than 50 Men’s Sheds at locations right across Wales.
Where to get help
- Domestic abuse can happen to anyone. Wales’ bilingual Live Fear Free helpline is available 24/7 on 0808 80 10 800 for anyone at risk of domestic abuse. The helpline had a 74% increase in contacts from men this July to September compared to April to June. https://gov.wales/live-fear-free
- Dyn Project provides support to heterosexual, gay, bisexual and trans men across Wales who are experiencing domestic abuse of any kind, and provides them with access to support services and safety. Every man has a right to feel safe.
Call the Dyn Wales Helpline for support and advice on 0808 801 0321 (currently open Monday to Friday 10am–4pm).
- Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at email@example.com
- Mind also offer mental health support between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. You can call them on 0300 123 3393 or text them on 86463. There is also lots of information available on their website.
- Campaign Against Living Miserably's (CALM) helpline and webchat are open from 5pm until midnight, 365 days a year. Call CALM on 0800 58 58 58 or chat to their trained helpline staff online. No matter who you are or what you're going through, it's free, anonymous and confidential. https://www.thecalmzone.net/
- 24/7 Construction Industry helpline - UK 0345 605 1956