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Keep calm and carry on?

We British are known for our stiff upper lip and just getting on with things. It’s part of our quirky cultural behaviour – like forming orderly queues, or saying sorry when it’s not our fault.

Many of us just aren’t that great at talking about what’s bothering us. But if someone feels that the stresses and demands of life are getting on top of them, pretending everything’s fine can often add to the pressure.

Life is hard sometimes, and mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety are more common than you might think. We’ve found that these are among the most common conditions our customers disclose when making an application. In fact, 1 in 4 adults in the UK experience some kind of mental health problem each year1. It can affect anyone at any time in their lives and men and women are affected differently.

For example, women are more likely to be diagnosed with a common mental health problem, such as anxiety disorder, than men. But did you know that that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK2?

It seems men are suffering from mental health disorders – but perhaps they’re just not as comfortable discussing it.

This week is International Men’s Health Week and its focus is on the importance of talking about stress and other common mental health problems. These days, it can be difficult to find an outlet for concerns or worries – especially when the majority of us use social media to document only the good things in our lives. People can feel compelled to put on a brave face if it looks like everyone else is managing fine. And men in particular may worry that sharing their problems is a sign of personal weakness, or they might think they just need to ‘man up’ and put on that brave face in front of friends and family.

But they don’t need to. And they shouldn’t.

Just take a look at this short film featuring boxing champion Ricky Hatton. It was produced as part of the #mendthegap campaign to tackle the perception of mental health problems. In it, he speaks candidly about his battle with depression and what he did to get help when he needed it.

If someone as hard as The Hitman can talk about their mental health, no man (or woman) should feel they can’t do the same. Breaking down any lingering taboo surrounding mental health is the key to making sure no one suffers in silence.

Source: 1. www.menshealthforum.org.uk/mhw, June 2016. 2. Office for National Statistics, December 2015.

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