Mental health remains a subject surrounded by stigma, which is slowly being broken down through open and honest conversations. Communication on this topic is especially crucial for men, who often suffer in silence; suicide rates among men continue to climb. The importance of discussing mental wellness with your male friends, and being able to reach out for help when you need it, cannot be understated.
A recent Reddit post asked for tips on the best ways to help a man going through depression. One man, who suffers with depression himself, advised: "Be present (offering to talk if he wants to, give advice if he asks, etc)," but also warned against trying to over-empathise, as this can come off as overbearing and end up centring you in the conversation. "People with depression tend to have pretty low energy overall, especially if he’s dealt with his depression for a long time," he continued. "Offer to go with him to outings if he’d like, but again, be mindful of being too pushy. You can suggest therapy but there’s no guarantee that he’ll be willing to go — much less that he might be in therapy already."
"Last but not least—please be mindful of your own mental health," he said. "I find that a lot of people tend to think they can 'cure' their friend’s depression by doing what have you. All you can do as his friend is say that you’re available to talk when applicable, suggest the solution of therapy, and potentially provide solutions that have maybe worked for yourself if you’ve suffered/suffer from depression yourself."
Another commenter recommended patience. "Never, EVER, tell them that they're overreacting," they said. "Their 'story' will start sounding repetitive to you - but understand that a depressed person is often reliving their worst memories on a loop and it's all they can think about. Do not expect them to magically snap out of it, because while it may get old for you, it is still fresh as yesterday to their brain."
Similarly, another comment advised against trying to "put things in perspective" by saying how things could be worse, or pointing to people with what you might perceive to be "bigger" or "real" problems — this will only make your friend feel worse. Several commenters spoke on the guilt complex they have struggled with as a part of their depression; trying to remind somebody of the good things in their life will only compound this, and make them ashamed.
Regular contact, and letting someone know they can reach out to you (without pressuring them into talking) can have a positive impact, as one man recalled: "One thing I’ll never forget is my friend asking me to go to breakfast every Thursday," he said. "It got me up and showered and in the sunlight before noon. It forced me to interact with people I didn’t know (cashiers). We’d just sit and talk about little stuff, she didn’t even know how much she was helping me back then."
If depression is affecting your life or you need someone to talk to, please do not suffer in silence. Support is available here.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Beyondblue: 1300 224 636
This article originally appeared on Men's Health