Men’s Mental Health: 5 ways to be a good mate

1 in 8 men will experience depression.

1 in 5 men will experience anxiety.

Beyond Blue, 2019

Got a friend who’s going through a tough time and not sure what to do or how to help them?

We caught up with La Trobe’s Men’s Wellbeing Coordinator, psychologist Jason Campbell, to talk about what it means to be a good mate and how to use your emotional muscle to support friends in need.

1. Ask the question: ‘Are you okay?’

“If you notice a mate isn’t doing great, as him: “Are you okay?” says Jason.

This is the starting point to kick off a genuine conversation about their mental wellbeing. But the real key to asking if your mate is okay is actually listening intently to their answer, so they know you mean it.

“Being willing to listen to their answer is the most important part,” says Jason.

2. Be daring

“Be daring,” says Jason. “Go further and ask more questions – be willing to ask questions beyond the initial question of ‘are you okay?’ and start using your emotional muscle to have a meaningful conversation.”

But what is emotional muscle? And how can you strengthen yours?

This video from Tomorrow Man sums it up perfectly.

La Trobe has its very own Tomorrow Man workshop coming to Bundoora Campus on Wednesday 28 August, 2019 – with all male students invited to take part. Scroll to the end of this article for more details.

3. Check in

Sometimes you haven’t heard from your friend in a while and you start to realise just how long it has actually been. Life can get in the way of keeping in touch and staying connected to the people you care about. Don’t let it. Check in. You can reach out via message or social media, but it’s important to organise a time to catch up in person (if geographically possible).

“Nothing beats the human interaction,” says Jason. “Socialising and being around people is good for our mental health. There’s a lot of great benefits that come from simply being together.

“There’s nothing wrong with sending a message, if it’s a starter. Say ‘let’s go and kick the footy’ or ‘let’s meet up and study together, because I’m a bit stressed about exams,’ or ‘how about we go and get a coffee and have a break from study for a while.’ Face-to-face is best if it can be. It can be lonely if it’s all online.”

Exams, assignments and other potentially stressful events are important times to check in, Jason emphasises. “Just recognise that it can be a rough time and watch out for your mates. Some of your mates might not be tracking too well, and so you should just keep an eye out. Notice other people around you.”

4. Know where to find the right help

“Remind a mate that there are services available and to not to be afraid to take them up. They’re free,” said Jason.

If you or a mate are experiencing mental health concerns, stress, or simply just want someone to talk to, make an appointment with the University’s Counselling service – it’s free. You can also meet directly with Jason, who specialises in men’s wellbeing, or another male counsellor if you prefer.

Register here for the La Trobe Tomorrow Man Workshop at Bundoora Campus.

If you need out-of-hours support, contact the University’s Crisis Line via call or text.

5. Take care of yourself

“Being a good mate is looking after yourself too, because you can’t look after anyone else until you look after yourself first,” says Jason.

Jason urges men to consider all aspects of their health holistically including diet, exercise and social connections with others.

“They all tie in together and affect each other,” said Jason. “Mental health is as important as physical health, and good mental health comes from an ongoing process of looking after yourself.”

Tomorrow Man really work on helping men to be more resilient, with more peer-to-peer support, because that’s another thing – even though men might be struggling, they don’t often reach out to other men at the moment.”

Jason Campbell, Psychologist and Men’s Wellbeing Coordinator at La Trobe

Join the Tomorrow Man workshop

Tomorrow Man runs workshops for boys and men across Australia with exercises to strengthen emotional muscle. In the workshops, men share and hear one another’s stories and learn how to support themselves and each other. Tomorrow Man is hosting a workshop at La Trobe’s Bundoora Campus on Wednesday 28 August, 2019 – reserve your spot here.

The guys that did it, loved it. They really enjoyed it. They liked hearing other people’s stories and having conversations. They get to see other men have similar things going on and they think, ‘wow, it’s not just me.’”

Jason speaking about the experiences of past participants of the Tomorrow Man workshop.