**CONTAINS DISCUSSION AROUND MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AND SUICIDE**
I have to start by giving credit to society, the media and celebrities — the topic of taking mental health seriously is finally being talked about, in the mainstream, without stigma.
With the rise of celebrity male suicides in recent years, and by looking at statistics of male suicides, discussion around male mental health has risen, a lot.
The main things I seem to hear are “don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings”, and “if you are feeling low or depressed, visit your doctor and get help". While these are amazing and valid and potentially life changing, they are not the only answer.
I know from personal experience within my own family, and from a friend of my mine commiting suicide, that men can and do talk about their feelings, and they can do this a lot.
They can beg for help.
And they can still lose their battle. Some might be lucky to manage to drag themselves out of that moment of utter desperation, but this isnt always the way.
I was lucky enough to call Liam my friend for around 3 years before his suicide. And all of those 3 years, I knew he was battling his demons.
I saw the scars — both physical and emotional. I heard his stories, I saw him ask for help, I watched him take the medication and start to feel better, I watched his mental health enter downward spiral after downward spiral.
He never once hid this from those close to him, or his doctor. He was one of the most open people I have ever met, willing for help. The mental health services let him down.
Liam isn’t alone in his experience either, my family member also asked for help. A lot. He was met with conditions he wasn’t able to meet, and passed around different services. No one would help him. I genuinely believe he was days away from attempting suicide. He somehow pulled himself out, finding strength inside of him we didn’t know he was capable of at the time. No thanks to the mental health services of the UK.
Why do these services preach the power of men talking, of opening up and accessing “help”, then fail, again and again. I can’t be alone in feeling like this, and I must stress this is not isolated to certain NHS trusts. This was experienced in the north west of England, as well as the south. I personally experienced similar lack of support in the Midlands.
We can sing and shout about men (and women) going to talk about their problems, going to their doctors and getting help — that’s the easy part. The mental health services needs a shake up, needs funding, needs understanding, needs realistic options.
I can’t change the current situation, by god I wish I could, I just hope that in some way the NHS realises the issue, I hope the government uses its funds for good and invests in this vital service. For now, we can keep encouraging our loved ones to talk about their struggles, and hope for the best.