Whose responsibility is your mental health?

Mental health awareness in men has improved significantly over the last couple of years. There are a number of excellent charities raising huge amounts of money to help support those men who are suffering and for perhaps the first time its ok to talk openly about mental health.

But are we really any further along in the mission to offer men a solution to help improve their mental health?

Medication seems to be the majority of doctor’s choice of method. It’s easily available and can shed some much-needed respite for the suffering man.  I have worked with men who have had success with medication, which seems to offer a temporary solution for the brain fog that lingers and gives them the opportunity to deal with the bigger issue at hand whatever that may be. I’ve also worked with men that have felt worse after starting their course of medication and men that have been on and off them for years with no real change to their mental state.

But after medication what is left? I have never used medication (not prescribed) to help with depression. So my view is purely from my experience working with clients and discussions with close friends.

The other common route that a doctor will prescribe is counselling. A short course of one-2-one sessions that usually requires a long wait and a lottery of hoping you come into contact with an empathetic and understanding counsellor who is skilled enough to help you make the changes you need to make. Continuing to practice the changes made is another challenge in itself once you are no longer having regular sessions. One thing I have learnt about mental health is that each individual will need a different approach when it comes to a non-medicated solution.

Urgency is usually only brought about if you answer yes to the question ‘Do you want to kill yourself?’ but do we really want men getting to the stage where help is only available when you are ready to end your own life? I’m certain more lives could be saved with a different approach to the way we live.

Perhaps, controversially, I refuse to solely rely on the system or the help offered by the medical profession. I want to find my own path of building mental toughness and respite when things become challenging. I will find suitable methods by continuous practice and learning from those men who have been there and done it. The stress we all encounter in everyday life is not going anywhere but our ability to deal or handle stress can increase. I believe we often have the answers but must have the courage to live the life we really want to live rather than one based on other peoples views. This is perhaps the biggest challenge you will face, but in my opinion it’s the biggest cause of depression.

Maybe we should take more responsibility for our own mental state? Are you working hard enough on improving the way you feel or as a nation are we still putting our mobile phones and poor eating habits before our mental health?

I feel my best when I work my hardest. Not on my business, not on my fitness goals but on me. My energy is key to the way I think, feel and act. I’ve proved it to myself hundreds of times. When I’m on the canvas I’m tired, heavily invested in other peoples business, scrolling social media, unable to switch off, regularly doing jobs or work I don’t enjoy, people pleasing and giving a huge fuck what other people think of me or my decisions.

My best and happiest version is when I’m focused and working hard on the right things and being productive, having phone free time, regularly meditating, recording the daily victories, sleeping well, having events or holidays to look forward to, eating light, exercising and doing the things I want to do and not giving a shit about your opinion of me.

So are the solutions and fixes staring you right in the face? It is that simple. I tell myself ‘I am responsible for my mental state’. Nobody else.

I’m not claiming this is the fix to all people’s problems. Depression will always exist. But even if a change of lifestyle can help make men feel happier or potentially save a very small percentage of lives we have to chase that avenue first. Do your bit and work on yourself because that is the only thing in life you have control of.

Alex Myers