“Big boys don’t cry.”
“God, you’re complaining more than my wife!”
1 in 3 men have experienced suicidal thoughts. 3 in 4 men wouldn’t feel able to say openly that they have a mental health problem to a friend. 3 in 4 suicide victims in the UK are men. This month is the perfect time to shed some light on the mental health issues men face, why awareness of these issues is so important, and what we can do to help ourselves and each other.
If you haven’t come across Men’s Health Awareness Month before, you may have heard of “Movember”. Yes, the thing that suddenly makes men around the world start growing out their moustaches for a month. But it isn’t just about facial hair, although that is where it started. In 2004, a group of men in Melbourne, Australia started growing a moustache for 30 days to raise money and awareness for men’s cancers. Since then, more than 6 million people have joined the movement and have raised enough money to support over 1,250 men’s health projects, including the development of two vital prostate cancer drugs.
So why does men’s health get its own month? While everyone’s health is important, some things disproportionately or exclusively affect men, and we can be really bad at addressing it. For example, the incidence and mortality rates for prostate cancer are almost identical to breast cancer, but it gets less than half the amount of research funding in the UK. However, one of the biggest health issues men face, is mental health. Our society’s view of masculinity often makes men feel that they are “weak” if they admit to struggling with mental health or ask for help. And with a third of men experiencing suicidal thoughts at some point in their life, and three quarters of men feeling unable to talk to their friends about their mental health problems, it is clear that something needs to change. In the UK, suicide has become the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45, men account for about three quarters of all suicide victims, and last year male suicide rates hit the highest they’ve been since 2000. It’s no wonder that male suicide is being termed a “silent epidemic”.
Unfortunately, many of the risk factors, which include financial instability, feelings of isolation and general feelings of stress and uncertainty, have only been exacerbated by the pandemic and resultant lockdowns. Not to mention that, as the days get shorter and colder, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – also known as “winter depression” will start to set in for almost a third of British adults. But as concerning as the situation is, there are things you can do to help yourself and your loved ones get through this difficult time. If you are a woman, check in with the men in your life and remind them that sharing their feelings is healthy, not weak. If you are a man, work on breaking down those ideas of masculinity that cause these problems in your own mind, and be there for your friends. They may just need some human contact. They may need some advice, encouragement or hugs (if they are in your bubble). They may need some practical help with something that is stressing them out. Or they may need you to encourage them to get professional help. Whatever they need, remember that your support is probably more valuable to them than either of you realise – it’s not embarrassing, it’s a literal lifesaver. And for yourself, you can check out our article on ten ways you can boost your mental health here – and maybe you could even share these tips with someone in your life that might need them.
What about CBD?
Although it is non-psychoactive, the endocannabinoid system that CBD targets has receptors throughout your brain and has a significant influence on mood regulation. Research into how CBD can benefit your mental health is still ongoing, but a 2018 study of 57 male subjects found that a 300mg dose of CBD significantly decreased the anxiety levels caused by a stressful situation. This study used a relatively high dose, but some people who take CBD to boost their mental wellbeing use as little as 10mg a day (that’s just 4 drops of 5% CBD oil). It is worth noting that this study used a one-time dose for a very short-term effect, but most people recommend taking CBD oil in 2 or 3 small doses every day to get a more consistent benefit. You may also need to keep taking this amount of CBD for a few days to begin noticing any effect. If you want to, you can then try increasing the dosage, or changing when / how often you take it. At these low levels there are no unpleasant side effects to CBD, and no way to take “too much”, so mess around with your dosage as much as you like until you feel that it is working for you. We recommend you keep a journal, or just a piece of paper, to note down how much you are taking, when you are taking it, and ways you feel it may be helping. This helps keep your dosage consistent, and gives you something to refer back to as you make changes to your dosage, helping you discover what works best for you.
Our oils come in several different flavours to make taking CBD as enjoyable as possible, and we also offer capsules and gummies if that’s your preferred way to take it. We also highly recommend trying out our new range of CBD oils with vitamin D, especially at this time of year. Our bodies naturally produce vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight – something that tends to be in short supply in the winter months – and low levels of vitamin D have been linked with depression and anxiety. So it’s no wonder that a lack of vitamin D has also been implicated as a contributing factor in causing SAD. And finally, why not take your self-care routine up a notch by checking out our Grass & Co. Calm and Ease ranges. They feature aromatherapy candles, pillow sprays, bath salts, body oils, alongside a special calming CBD oil blend that combines the benefits of CBD with the stress-relieving and mood-lifting effects of mint, chamomile and ashwagandha for the ultimate mental health boost.
For more tips on boosting your mental health this season, follow the link below.