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Is men’s mental health still a taboo topic in the South Asian community?


Being a first-generation migrant Umar Hafiz had to re-establish his social circle when he moved to Australia in his early teens.

After Umar Hafiz came to Australia he decided to volunteer for a not-for-profit organisation which aims to support men’s mental health and wellbeing.

“Because I made a lot of male friends in my new social setting, I realised that men don’t share their problems with each other,” Umar told SBS Urdu.


  • Eight people in Australia commit suicide every day.
  • Mental health is still largely considered a taboo topic in the South Asian community.
  • International Men’s Day celebrated every year on 19th November.

“They are generally companions of a good time, even when they are there for the tough times it is very hard for them to open up about their mental health issues. 

“Especially for sub-continental men it is a huge obstacle for them to share their issues or problems with other men.

 I see that men are most often alone when it comes to mental health.

Umar, who volunteers for Formen Australia says that men are susceptible to mental health issues and ‘we want to bring this number down to zero.’

“Our approach is to proactively provide men and their partner tools to develop self-leadership and identify triggers before their condition becomes critical”.

International Men’s Day

Eight people in Australia commit suicide every day - out of which 75% are men - according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

More than 65,000 try to commit suicide every year and it's the leading cause of death between the ages of 15 and 44. 

International Men’s Day is celebrated every year on Thursday 19th November. This year’s theme for the day was ‘Better Health for Men and Boys’. 

Warwick Marsh from Australia and coordinator for said, “We want to promote the need to value men and boys and help people make practical improvements in men and boy’s health and well-being.”

Australian South-Asian Community

According to psychologist Lubna Atif mental health is still considered a ‘taboo topic’ in the South Asian community.

“Through my work, especially this year due to COVID-19 we have seen more men taking the step towards seeking help but awareness in our community is still very low,” said Ms Atif.

“Sadly, most people who came to my clinic from the South Asian community their problems were related to family, kids or financial stress.

“Only on further investigation, we found how depressed and anxiety-ridden these men have been.”

On average one in eight Australian men experience depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

International Mens Day 2020
Getty Images/mixetto

Mental Health Taboo and COVID

Ms Atif believes that COVID-19 has complicated things even further.

“Generally men in our community are considered to be the guardians of the family. Due to COVID men that have faced job and finance-related issues have significantly increased mental stress.

“Men from our community have made this an issue of respect and feel embarrassed to talk about it.” Ms Atif further added.

Ms Atif further says that people are generally nervous about terms such as depression and anxiety which is another deterrent for them to seek help.

Where to seek help?

According to Ms Atif, three steps are very important for a person to seek help.

“First is self-reflection and the realisation that what you are experiencing is not normal whether it is increased stress, anxiety or lack of sleep.

“Secondly you should have one close contact in your life that you can always talk to when things get tough.

“Thirdly you should immediately seek medical help and talk to you GP, who can assess your condition and refer you to a specialist if needed.”

If you are experiencing a personal crisis or have suicidal thoughts contact Lifeline for support on 13 11 14. For more information on suicide prevention visit the Department of Health website.

Listen to the full interview by clicking the speaker button on the main image. 

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