Men, our British stiff upper lip is trembling – and rightly so.
Recently we were alerted about something “Time To Talk Day”, a national campaign to spend 5 minutes talking about mental health so we’ve decided to meet up with CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). CALM is a charity and helpline that has been around on Merseyside for 15 years and aims to prevent suicide amongst males. Want to know the biggest killer of men from 20-45 in England and Wales? You’re probably expecting to hear heart disease or something alcohol related but shockingly it is suicide. More men are taking their own lives than ever before and the statistics tell a sorry and upsetting tale. Initiatives like CALM are trying to save the male, not through a high dosage of pills, but through talking. The simplest yet most effective remedy of all.
Depression, the intrinsic feeling of sadness, often floats into our lives with the arrogance of not even having the reasons with it to vindicate such a feeling. Depression is the secret we all share, whether you’ve felt it yourself or know someone close to you who has experienced it, we’d be surprised if you weren’t aware of the perils that come with it. Braided in our genetics, most are predisposed to this mammoth melancholy and only need one trigger to set off a spiralling cycle of anxiousness, daunt and numbness. Depression doesn’t just eat away at your happiness, it slaughters your vitality and without vitality, we are nothing. Society has made depression feel like an illness we should be embarrassed of, it is seen as a sign of weakness to the masses rather than a strength of admittance. It silences its catastrophic number of sufferers and represents the light at the end of the tunnel as a train. The narrative of those who can see the grass is greener on the other side is more important now than ever and so is the work of CALM.
Men have always been less likely to open up and less likely to have a support system to assist them through modern terrain. There’s a stigma attached to an emotional male who opens up and CALM wanted to combat that and offer a service to help those suffering in silence. They started a helpline, which currently sees thousands of men ringing each month from all over the UK. They also have a WebChat service for those who want to talk but might not want to pick up the phone. They’ve had an extraordinary couple of years but one of their most notable memories was their local “Man Down” campaign. For National Suicide Awareness Day on September 10th they encouraged people to print off pictures saying “I Am A Man And I Refuse To Be A Man Down” and post a selfie holding it. Celebrities, labourers and scholars alike got involved and the campaign ended up trending on Twitter.
A couple years ago the world came to a halt when Robin Williams took his own life. The man who brought tears to our eyes with laughter in the characters he portrayed could not find happiness in his own. Although this incredible man achieved many admirable milestones in his life, it was after he took his own that the world started to recognise and talk more openly about suicide. Whilst the news was globally devastating, Robin inadvertently got us talking, challenging attitudes and he has arguably achieved his most world-changing feat past the grave. There isn’t a statistic that tells us how many lives the result of the news about Robin might have saved but we’re guessing a lot.
Helping someone with depression isn’t about changing the forecast of the weather or stopping the rain, it is about holding the umbrella up every now and then. It is about building a den and refusing to get out until they feel ready to come out and basically, just being there. The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality, and it is vitality that can steep away and leave us in the debris of depression. Just because you can’t sign a caste, doesn’t mean they don’t feel broken. Anxiety is becoming as common as the cold and 1 in 10 teenagers are house bound as a result of it and it only perpetuates the need of campaigns like CALM.
The answer? Well, obviously, it isn’t that easy but CALM helped us come up with some suggestions. The first is talking. Don’t bottle your problems up and erupt like a shaken can of coke one day, find people to talk to about things and don’t repress. We live in a society where everything is in the fast lane and it is resulting in an age of loneliness. We’re bound to the wi-fi on our phones, we catch up by looking down and technology has consumed our very being. We’re interacting less than ever; we’re doing our weekly shops on our tablets, talking face to face on Skype and ironically being anti-social on social media sites. Rather than having your mind full, be mindful and talk and listen and help. One of the most noble actions you can do in this world is help someone. The bills might not be any easier to pay and you might not be on the front of a newspaper any time soon but we’re pretty sure you’ll find a deeper sense of happiness and empathy.
If you’re feeling down, depressed or suicidal, please contact CALM on 0800 58 58 58 and talk to their professional team who can help. Just having someone at the end of the phone to listen can save a life, so please take their number and either use it or pass it on. Their website is full of blogs, advice and content that whilst informative, aims to remove the alienation that mental illnesses bring. Let’s face it, mental illness is complex and it’s difficult to talk about but something has to change, we need to change. Depression isn’t a sign of weakness, silence isn’t strength and if you’re reading this right now you may not be able to see it but the world needs you.
Don’t be another man down.