I was speaking with a bloke not long ago, “Joe”, who was feeling really frustrated trying to help a mate who was more or less avoiding his attempts at support and refusing to seek help, even though he was obviously in some emotional distress. As is often the case Joe felt powerless in this situation and asked how he might better approach things.

So what do we do when someone close to us, often a friend or family member won’t seek help? How do we manage the sense of obligation we may feel or the emotions that come with this?

It’s important firstly to try and understand the reasons why some people are less likely to seek help when it is needed. We need to recognise that often when people are in the middle of a tough situation simply making a decision to admit something is wrong can be a difficult and daunting thing.  It can take time for some people to become comfortable enough with their situation to then contemplate the idea of accessing help. For others, negotiating feelings of embarrassment and shame can be quite overwhelming.

I take my hat off to Joe because, like him, we all need to recognise our role as primary carers, that is, everyday people in the community actively supporting and looking out for our mates.   

Whilst our intentions can be coming from a good place, trying to force someone to change or get help could actually put more of a strain on your relationship. Alternatively, simply avoiding them can foster stronger feelings of isolation and possibly result in the person becoming even more resistant. This can prove difficult when the time comes and they are ready to reach out but may no longer feel comfortable with the idea of approaching you. 

As difficult as these situations can seem, it is really important to be there for people who are going through a tough time. You can do this just by letting them know you are available to listen when they need it and help when they do decide to reach out. In the meantime you could take the opportunity to do a bit of research into what specialised local support options might be available, if required, such as a counsellor, financial/legal support or the GP, so you can be prepared and direct them when they do reach out. We also need to remind ourselves that the ability to “listen effectively” is one of the most important skills we can possess. Being a good listener can have a big impact on improving our relationships and helping others.

At the end of the day it’s also important to look after yourself!  Setting clear boundaries is healthy and is all about understanding our limits. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, talking to someone yourself can provide a good outlet and perhaps some insights into ways to manage the situation.

Most of the time, giving someone the space they need to arrive at seeking help is a good thing. However, if you do have concerns that someone is at imminent risk or danger to themselves or others due to their situation, then it is important that you act on this and seek professional help immediately. In these circumstances you may be worried about going against a person’s wishes, but in reality I think most of us would rather deal with an angry response than a situation where the person we care about is seriously hurt or in trouble. 

Brenden and the Team


The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)        
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401            
Phone: 08 9690 2277                
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.regionalmenshealth.com.au


   

Self-worth and self- esteem are often confused as being synonymous (the same), however they are very different.  

•    Self-esteem is about measuring yourself based on external actions;
•    Self-worth is about valuing your inherent worth as a person.

In other words self-worth is about who you are, not about what you do.

Society pushes for the need to have a high self-esteem but the problem with this is that you are always valuing yourself against others. The competitive nature of men in particular, tells us we need to be better and above average to feel really good about ourselves (keeping up appearances). When you look at this way of building your self-esteem it can be a losing battle because there will always be someone who is more handsome, slimmer, richer, owns bigger and better equipment and so on.

Self-esteem is pretty transient and can change in an instant depending on what happens, for example we may be feeling pretty good about a new piece of machinery or the quality of our stud flock and then someone makes a negative comment and our self-esteem falters and we feel completely crushed.  That’s how fragile our self-esteem can be because it can also be fixed by a compliment that bolsters us again.  Much anxiety may be created in striving for acceptance or approval and maintaining our ego or pride.

Probably the best way to understand self-worth is to ask yourself how valuable you are, or how much you deserve to have something you prize.  It is a deep knowing that you are of value, that you are loveable and necessary to this life.  One may feel a high self-esteem because they are good at something, yet still not feel they are loveable and worthy.  When you have a healthy self-worth (at the very core of yourself) you have a deep knowing that you are fundamentally a valuable and worthwhile person regardless of -

•    what others may say or do to you;
•    what your successes or failures are;
•    what you win or lose;
•    what you have or don’t have;
•    whether you are sick or healthy.

The concept of self-worth is really about knowing that you are always going to be worth more than all of your achievements put together.  

It is definitely a good thing to think and feel good about ourselves but what happens when our self-esteem is crushed, does that mean we are no longer valuable?  Absolutely not however many people do think that they are no longer valuable.  For example Robyn Williams, the highly regarded actor and held in high esteem by millions, completed suicide probably not because of a low self-esteem but more likely a low sense of self-worth.

Self-worth and self-esteem are vital beliefs for empowering oneself.  A valid sense of self worth is necessary in order to attain love and a sound mind.  A valid sense of self-worth precludes the possibility of depression and the worthlessness that can lead to despair or possible suicidal behaviour.

Situations, or life events, can come from many places.  As these situations develop we need to value our self-worth to reduce anxiety for ourselves.  Remember …before it all gets too much… Talk to a Mate!


Tim and the Team


The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)        
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401            
Phone: 08 9690 2277                
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.regionalmenshealth.com.au


   

How many times have we heard the phrase “getting the balance right”?  What does this mean to you?  If we look up the word “balance” in the dictionary (yes I still have the book version) we will find 18 definitions, depending of course on the context in which the word is to be used.
   
The context of a work/life balance also depends on individual circumstances and attitude; whether we are single or married, studying, self-employed, contracting, FIFO, caring for someone or raising a family.
   
Ask yourself “do I have my work/life in balance?”  To assess this firstly identify the prominence of work in your situation.  Does it challenge/drive you, is it enjoyment, a sense of satisfaction and/or purpose or is it just a means to an end (that is if we don’t work we don’t get paid, if we don’t get paid we can’t live the life we want or do the things we enjoy)?  Is it a mix of both?

The “life” side of things for most of us is enjoying some form of interaction with other people. This can happen through our hobbies, sport, children, family, religious congregation, social/community groups, or by volunteering (ironically work can also be one of these).

The definition which (I think) is the best fit when considering “work/life balance” is to have these two areas “well-proportioned and harmonious”.

Our work/life balance can be disrupted when we are under pressure, feeling distressed or even embarrassed by an event and as blokes we may then disengage from others and try to solve problems and deal with stressors alone. Unfortunately by doing this we remove ourselves from valuable support systems, which in turn creates and exacerbates feelings of loneliness and isolation.
 
Remember to maintain and re-engage with social opportunities as this is a significant part of positive mental health, coping and overall wellbeing.    Something as simple as taking timeout, communicating (remember its part of the problem solving process), having a laugh with others (this may expose us to different ways of thinking of doing things) and even in busy times scheduling time to have that game of bowls, timeout with the kids or partner, is essential.

Having a busy life may lead us to feel that there is more to do than what seems reasonable in any given day.  We all get equal measures of time, there is 24 hours in a day for everyone.  Why then is it that for some of us 24 hours never seems enough, while others seem to have plenty of time?  Perhaps we need to ask ourselves “is time the problem, or is it our ability to manage our time”?  How much we have on our plate varies throughout the year, so we need to be aware to continually monitor our time to ensure that for the majority of the year we have a well-proportioned and harmonious work/life balance.

Terry and the Team

The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)        
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401            
Phone: 08 9690 2277                
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.regionalmenshealth.com.au


   

An important question we all need to be asking ourselves as a community member is “how can we reduce overall societal violence”?

We need to take into account that the majority of violence in our society is men on men and it goes largely unreported to the police and has limited exposure in the media because it is too common a subject.  Why is all the focus on male violence to females and children when all violence is abhorrent, evil and sick?

Under the umbrella of societal violence, men on men violence, statistically is the largest category and until this is recognised, talked about and addressed, all the other statistics relating to violence, in particular family/domestic violence, will be hard to change.  

This is a tough conversation to have but it needs to be had.  The historical background of our society, through thousands of years, has defined men by events that have condoned, championed, accepted and normalized violent actions.  Many historical and current events are horrific and violent, such as the invasion of other countries, civil war, ethnic cleansing, and sporting contests both in the gladiator/roman days and today with modern day cage fighting as an example.  This type of violence, usually men against men, is often called entertainment.  Society justifies and supports it every day!

Traditionally for blokes our flight sequence is fear (we all have some) anger and then aggression.   When we are talking with angry young (and old) men we need to continually put into place positive strategies substantiating that physical aggression and violence against anybody is not condoned and should not be part of modern society.  

Family/Domestic violence can happen in any relationship and can happen to anyone.  Victims can be men, women or children, perpetrators can be men or women.  Family/Domestic violence encapsulates not just physical abuse but also emotional or psychological abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse and financial abuse.  Recognising that you are in a violent relationship is an important first step.  Things will not change for the better if you do nothing.

There are many commentators on family/domestic violence and it is disappointing that the majority ignore men and children.  Do people realise that one in three victims of reported domestic/family violence is male?  Therein lies the philosophical problem when we don’t balance out the whole discussion.  Random violent acts are being broadcasted by social media thus delivering instant gratification and adoration and promoting this violence in society as acceptable.

Just to repeat family/domestic violence is a subset of the total picture of violence, and in my opinion we will struggle to stop family/domestic violence without discussing the bigger picture.  We need to be having an ongoing holistic community discussion on the broader issue of men and violence.  

All of us men need to be having a discussion about tackling violence in our lives and saying yes to stopping violence against each other, against women, against children, and against the community.

 

Owen and the Team


The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)        
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401            
Phone: 08 9690 2277                
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.regionalmenshealth.com.au


   

Grief is a universal, instinctual and an adaptive reaction to loss, in particular the grief from the loss of a loved one.  Feelings of loss are very personal and only you know what is significant. Less obvious losses can also cause strong feelings of grief such as loss of possessions, job, relationship, health, or physical ability.

Loss is an inevitable part of life and grief is a natural part of the healing process that varies for different people.  The grieving process allows those left behind after a death to accept the person is no longer around.

When experiencing and reacting to grief, it is common to:

  • feel like you are “going crazy”
  • have difficulty concentrating
  • feel sad or depressed, anxious, nervous or fearful
  • be irritable or angry ( at the deceased, oneself, others)
  • feel frustrated or misunderstood
  • feel like you want to escape
  • experience guilt or remorse
  • be ambivalent, lack energy and motivation
  • feel numb.

Each one of us has an individual style of coping with painful experiences (there is no right or wrong way).  Some people don’t show their grief in public but only express it in private.  We don’t always know how people are coping simply by what we see.

The following tips may help generate ideas about how to manage feelings of grief:

  • talk to family, friends or a mate
  • engage in social activities
  • exercise, eat healthy foods
  • take time to relax, listen to music
  • seek counselling or join a support group
  • be patient and let yourself feel grief.

The length of the grief process is different for everyone.  It takes time to heal and this may not be just days it can be weeks, months and even years.  

Grief comes in waves.  When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, surrounded by wreckage reminding you of the ship that was and is no more, and all you can do is float.  As you float you hang onto a piece of wreckage for a while in the form of a physical thing (a memory or photograph), it may even be another person floating with you, and for a while that’s all you can do is float.  In the beginning you had 100 metre waves crashing over you 10 seconds apart barely allowing you to breath.  After a while (maybe weeks or months) the 100 metre waves still come crashing over you but they are now further apart allowing you to breathe and function without as much difficulty.  There will be triggers of grief that will arise (a song, a place, a photo) and a wave will come crashing but in between there is life.  Somewhere down the line (it is different for everybody) you will find the waves are only 80 or 50 metres, they still come but are further apart.  You will be able to see them coming (special anniversary days) but now you can prepare yourself for the waves, knowing you will come out the other side, soaking wet, spluttering and still hanging onto a piece of wreckage but you will come out. Intermittent waves never stop coming and you don’t really want them to but you will survive them.

If you feel you are not coping seek professional help from your GP or a counsellor.

 

Tim and the Team


The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)        
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401            
Phone: 08 9690 2277                
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.regionalmenshealth.com.au