Australia

Australian men urged to seek mental health help amid grim statistics

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Mental health support agencies have urged Australian men to overcome any stigma that might be preventing them from seeking help.

Australia's suicide rate has been increasing and men are three times more likely to die by their own hand than women.

In 2016, that was 2,100 men compared to 715 women. That number is also three times the number of people who die in road accidents.

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Rachel Bowles from Lifeline said those figures demand a response.

"[We need] to really shine a light on that and across the board say this is a huge problem and we need to treat it as seriously as we do any other health or risk factor to men."

Stigma prevents men from seeking help

Mental health support agencies believe a reluctance on the part of some men to get help is behind those grim statistics.

Chris McIntyre works as a psychologist at Mates4Mates, an organisation set up by RSL Queensland to offer support for serving and former defence force personnel.

He said too many men stay silent when they need help.

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"There's still a need for a cultural change around how men go about asking for assistance and how they go about talking about the issues that they've got going on in their lives.

"That's something at Mates4Mates we've been working hard on changing and using things like, you know, the R U OK Day and other resources to encourage that open communication between men, particularly."

A need for effective communication

Mr McIntyre said the use of high-profile individuals in mental health campaigns has had some benefit in getting the message across.

"Whether that may be an elite athlete or some other recognisable figure in the community.

"But yeah I think early on too, with our young people, we have to look at attacking the stigmas that surround men and particularly discussions around emotions and how we deal with distress because, like women, we go through the same issues that they do. However, they seem to be a little bit more effective in communicating the issues that they're experiencing."

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Kids Helpline said of all the calls it takes from people needing assistance, only 21 per cent are males.

Spokesman Tony Fitzgerald said letting young people know that seeking help is not a sign of weakness is an important first step.

"Parents have probably got the most important role to play in this and probably more so males, the dads and significant adults in the lives of our young people, really making an effort to lead the way and show them it's okay to seek help and it's not to be seen as a weakness but, in fact, should be seen as a strength."



Former army officer Ben Farinazzo is someone who did seek help after serving in Timor-Leste in 1999.

It took him 10 years to deal with the emotional and psychological trauma of his time overseas, including a formal diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

His message to men is to ditch the traditional male tendency not to ask for help.

"Seek the help that you need. Do it now.

"Take the time now to reach out, speak to your doctor, speak to your mates and take that first step."

Listeners seeking support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

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