Skip to main content

Men's Mental Health Month

The goal of Movember is to "change the face” of men's health. From a mental health perspective Movember aims to increase awareness, diagnose and treat mental health issues as well as prevent suicide.

This is pertinent for this edition as it is November, for the last few years known as Movember.

Movember is an international foundation and the month when men grow moustaches (the symbol of the foundation) to raise aware and funds to promote men’s health.

The goal of Movember is to "change the face” of men's health. From a mental health perspective Movember aims to increase awareness, diagnose and treat mental health issues as well as prevent suicide.

The Q &A aims to answer the following frequently asked questions about men’s mental health.

Q: Do men find it difficult to recognise that their health in general and mental health in particular is declining or deteriorating?

Traditionally men have found it difficult to firstly admit that something is not right and secondly to get help. The typical role of protector and provider is challenged through ill health and this may have accounted for the reluctance to seek help. With the help of media in general ad high profile public figures being open about their mental health challenges this is changing. So much so that almost 40% of my clients are men.

Workplaces are recognising and encouraging men to seek help for mental health issues. This is noticed in emergency services and the Fire Service have appointed a Resilience Commissioner, the police and ambulance services have peer support workers who are their frontline point of call.

Q: What signs do they need to look out for?

Deteriorating mental health can be hard to detect. We need to watch for a change in appearance (dishevelled, looking fatigued, increase or decrease in weight), refusing social invitations, not replying to calls, texts or emails, a withdrawal from other social contacts such as hobbies and leisure activities and/or social media. Other signs include working more, increased sick leave, being physically unwell, engaging in addictive behaviours such as alcohol, drugs or gambling. It is also important to note any significant life changes such as end of a relationship, withdrawal of access to see children, serious physical health conditions such as cancer or heart disease.

Q: How can men recognise that they are more stressed?

A little bit of science to explain this. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis which is the stress response system and the sympathetic nervous system go into overdrive. This response can lead to an increase in aggression and decreased immune functioning. The fight-flight response is also activated. Men will often to turn to fight rather than flight and continue “soldiering on” rather than seeking help. Some signs may be increased worry, insomnia, feeling insecure, loss of confidence, decreased productivity.

As men often feel uncomfortable experiencing emotions such as sadness and fear there is an internal mechanism that converts emotions. The emotion of anger which is powerful and energising is a more palatable emotion, hence the possible increase in aggression.

By recognising these behaviour patterns and taking perspective men can begin to recognise that they are not coping so well.

Q: Overcoming the stigma - some high profile people have talked about their own experience with mental health issues.

Smashing the stigma, high profile people have been willing to share their stories from the British Royal Family to professional sportspeople, actors, musicians, politicians and more.

With a willingness to speak out and the media broadcasting the information we have come a long way in no longer being silent but we have a way to go.

Q: How many men have mental health issues in Australia?

One in seven Australian men experiences depression or anxiety or both in any year. Breakdown: 13.3% of Australian men aged 16 to 85 have experienced an anxiety and/or affective disorder in the past 12 months. This is equivalent to at least 1.26 million Australian men today.

Men make up an average seven out of every nine suicides every single day in Australia. The number of men who die by suicide in Australia every year is nearly double the national road toll.

Q: How can people get help?

Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they are coping or whether they are ok. Help is available from a GP in the first instance, by calling a help line such as Lifeline, obtaining information from Beyond Blue, seeing a psychologist. Talking to a good friend can also help.

Withdrawing and isolating increase depression and anxiety. Reaching out is vital.

And finally from Wayne Schwass, Mental Health Advocate:

It's time to challenge the old way ... it's a narrative that no longer serves us. It's not about blame or shame. It's about responsibility and opportunity. Manning up in the past was to suffer in silence; manning up now is to put your hand up. Fellas, it's OK to be in pain, it's OK to hurt, it's OK to be sad, but it's no longer OK to suffer in silence.

Article Written by:


Allied Health Manager at Currumbin Clinic, Psychologist in clinical practice for over 25 years