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Posts Tagged ‘international men's day’

For International Men’s Day (November 19th), I am interviewing a few other men I know who, similarly, have mental health issues. I’m trying to get a perspective on male-oriented mental health needs in our society today. I have edited this interviewees comments a little for clarity, readability and grammar.

Q1: Please tell us a little about yourself. How old are you, where are you from, and what do you do?

I am 47 living in London and now a (sort of) full-time artist. I’m married with a 12-year-old step-daughter, but am currently staying with local friends because the people we lodge with have a two and three year old. Plus I do not want my current mental condition to be around my step-daughter constantly.

Q2: What mental health problems do you suffer from, and how long have you been diagnosed for? Do you attribute them to any particular cause?

I have been diagnosed with BPD, EUPD (essentially the same thing and a catch-all for those that do not quite fit standard issues). Along with Social Anxiety, Chronic suicidal depression, and tentative diagnoses of other more complex issues including PTSD. 

As to cause, I think I have always had these problems. It is more to do with running out of the mental and physical energy to continue to cope.

Q3: What, overall, has been your experience with the mental health system in this country? What resources have you accessed?

Complicated and everything from utterly terrible to extremely good, sometimes on the same ward, during the same admittance.

Night-staff, in general, were the worst and tended to not follow the rules about certain things, like the escalation of emotional behaviour or ignoring patients. Sometimes they were actively rude to patients, including me.

Outside of ward, I found that, generally, the Home Treatment Team were useless other than for bringing medicines. However, places like the SUN Group, which is a twice-weekly mutual support session for sufferers of a variety of mental health issues, have been extremely useful. ADAPT (once they sorted out my Care Coordinator) has also been helpful.

I also undertook Art therapy while on-ward, during the most recent admittance, and also managing emotions as a sort of therapy/workshop. This was, personally, less useful as it told me things that I have known since childhood, but it worked well for the support of others. 

The art therapy is set to continue as soon as a long term placement is available.

Q4: Do you agree that the mental health approach needs to be more tailored to both the individual, and to men as a group? If so, in what ways?

Regardless of gender, there needs to be more money spent on mental health issues. They are closing aspects of the system down quietly, without informing the public. While I was on-ward, the “rest area” for potential patients to wait for beds was scrapped, which would have been a good thing if it had been replaced. Now mental health sufferers in need of admittance have to go to A&E at the main hospital.

Also scrapped was the Day Treatment Team, which normally organised activities and was in charge of running therapies and care groups. Those tasks have now fallen to HTT, more precisely the well-trained ones that are overburdened already.

So the simple answer is more money, more training for staff, better wages for front line staff, and more ward space available countrywide.

Q5: How do you feel the mental health system in this country currently fails men?

There are minimal resources and activities, particularly catering for male patients.

Q6: Why do you think it is that men access these services less frequently, despite being the majority of suicides and other negative outcomes?

Toxic masculinity meaning that males tend to grow up with less confidence to talk about and express the worries they have about mental illness.

Q7: What do you think could have helped intervention, or seeking help, earlier in your illness?

The need for GP doctors to be better trained in spotting mental health traits, particularly in the young and teenage population. Also, active encouragement for men to go to their GP for mental health issues as well as physical problems.

Q8: What have been the positives in your treatment through the mental health system?

I have found new friends in unlikely ways. I have actually encountered some forms of therapy that have the potential to at least help me cope better. Finally, medicinal help which at least partially seems to be of help

Q9: What would your idea of a perfect mental health system look like?

I am not sure, but probably utopian and universal, and as interlinked to each person as education and general health care should be. 

Q10: What has given you hope and pulled you back from the brink? 

Relatives, friends, other people that have shown such unconditional love and care to me. Globally, the continuance of possible care that could make this all easier to cope with, and striving to keep being creative and to push myself to do projects

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