A ‘CAN DO’ Challenge is the theme for this year’s Men’s Health Week. The challenge embraces the five ways to well-being over the first 5 days; taking notice, giving back, being active, connecting with others and continually learning.
Men are being tasked with putting into action a different way to find their own well-being each day of the week, then rounding off the weekend by repeating their favourite two activities!
Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
Be active – you don’t have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike?
Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
The Five Ways to wellbeing were developed by the New Economics Foundation. You can download the Take 5 poster here.
Organisers of the initiative, the Men’s Mental Health Forum, are also encouraging men to talk about how they feel. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, men’s mental health was already a cause for concern, with reduced numbers seeking treatment for depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Lockdowns brought a considerable rise in youth unemployment and inevitable home schooling which reports claim has hit boys and young men both at school and university, especially from Black African Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
Male-dominated workforces have suffered disproportionately in terms of income and some, such as self-employed taxi drivers, for example, have received little support to compensate for this loss. Additionally, men are more likely to be employed in occupations not easily carried out at home, resulting in higher male-dominated workforces at greater risk during the pandemic.
In Northern Ireland, Action Mental Health operates three Men’s Sheds for men aged 50+. Based in Downpatrick, Enniskillen and Antrim, the sheds bring men together to share their skills, have a laugh and a cup of tea while working on practical activities of their choice. It’s the perfect place for members to be themselves, a place to work at their own pace, a place to exchange ideas and learn, a place for members to support each other and build friendships. For further information please visit here.
Alongside the Sheds, Action Mental Health’s New Horizons services across Northern Ireland cater for men from 18+ supporting them back into education, employment or further training following periods of mental ill health. A number of our services also run groups specifically for younger clients – Lisburn (Speer), Foyle (Boost), Fermanagh (Boost), Antrim (Evolve). Find out more here.
AMH New Life Counselling offers a range of services to support men experiencing mental health issues and those in crisis.
In the past year AMH New Horizons supported 725 males while 83 men were welcomed into the Mens Sheds. AMH New Life counselling further supported 442 male clients over the age of 18 through one-to-one counselling.
For more Men’s Health Week information and related free materials please visit: https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/mhw