Mens mental health is certainly an issue in society that has some alarming statistics. The Mens Health Forum reports the following:
- Just over three out of four suicides (76%) are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35 (Reference: ONS)
- 12.5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders
- Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women - Health and Social Care Information Centre)
- Men are more likely to use (and die from) illegal drugs
- Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women. Only 36% of referrals to IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) are men.
Sharing our stories and opening up the conversation is the best way I know how to spread awareness. With being the only female in my little family I feel it important to take this opportunity to appreciate my three boys. Being a mother and step mother to boys comes with its own sense of responsibility to ensure they grow into respectful, courteous and kind men who can lead happy fulfilling lives, and know that we as parents will be there to support them in any way possible.
Fortunate to have been brought up by wonderful parents, my Dad in particular is the person I am told to be like the most. We are both head strong, won’t give in and as for my Dad he is the hardest working person I have ever known. This kind, teddy bear of a man has given me the work ethic to never give up and its definitely been needed having a son born with a bowel disease leading to years of hospital treatment which continues to this day. I have had to be his advocate, question everything and fight for more. Now I am in my 30’s I can see the future and that one day it will be me that has to care for them. It is a heart breaking thought and seeing your parents getting older and over thinking the inevitable is one of life’s cruelties. I can’t imagine a life without them and I make sure to be present and do all I can for them now as I repay them for the help and support they have always given me.
When living in and out of hospital it was impossible to me to return to work with my own health poor too. This meant my husband has to take on the strain of being the sole earner and make the daily trips in and out of hospital, bringing things in and going home to an empty house where his family should have been together to enjoy our new baby boy. When you are the one in hospital sitting next to the incubator it feels like the most loneliest place in the world. All you want is your family around you and your baby to get better. Now I can reflect on the time that has passed, I can see how difficult it must of been for my Husband to show up and do his job to the best of his ability (of which he is superb at) knowing that his baby was in and out of surgeries. Having my panicked text messages coming through and making the long trips across the country for meetings meant he had just a precious few hours in the evening in hospital to have to go home to an empty house. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate him carrying on, taking on that strain and giving me the time and energy to concentrate on our boy and not have to think about anything else.
I also have to take this opportunity to thank my wonderful step son. You often read stories as a step parent of relationships being strained and difficulties in the household where there are half siblings and children who have to share their time between homes. I can honestly say this handsome kind soul has never given me any trouble, has always been so helpful, thoughtful, and it has been an honour to watch him grown into the young man he is today. When he has his own children I hope he knows how much we appreciated him during the hospital days and how much his brother does too.
Finally to my little boy, my twinning ostomate (both of us have a stoma), my little bestie. I want him to grow up knowing it’s ok to be sad, its ok to show vulnerability. You don’t have to be strong all the time. It doesn’t make you less of a man. It makes you human. After joining the ostomate community on Instagram the one thing that I saw was the lack of male ostomates compared to females. The men that I do see on there are brilliant for saying it as it is, giving the males perspective of life with a medical condition, and showing little ones like my son that they can still lead long and for filling lives. He has no idea how much having him has changed me with what we have been through not typical of your typical Mother and Son. Despite this, I am sure it will make him grown into a man that is accepting of all people and open to conversation whether it's difficult or not. This International Men's Day give the men in your life an extra cwtch and let them know how much you appreciate them. We don’t need to defined day to do this but what a lovely reason to do it.
Take care, Rach x