Why Men Should Talk About Mental Health GP

Guest post written by Peter Shaw.

As a man, I am acutely aware of the problems surrounding speaking out and talking to others about mental health. The fact that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 speaks volumes. Clearly, something is convincing men that the only way out is suicide. This needs to be tackled and I feel the best way is by getting people in society as a whole to talk about mental health more openly and honestly.

Since volunteering with charity Time to Change, starting therapy and blogging about my mental health; I have begun to reflect more on being a man and having a mental illness and how in the past stigmatisation has prevented me from getting support and help. I have also started to take more notice of how it can still prevent me now from speaking out. It’s been expected that as a man, I would be strong, stoic and not talk about my feelings; I vividly remember my dad (despite being quite progressive and open around many issues) shying away from talking about his depression and anxiety. It’s only now I can look back on how much of my social anxiety is similar to his, in isolating myself from people, avoiding social situations and being extremely nervous and afraid around people, particularly in authority.

But my dad never spoke openly about these issues and even when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer he hid away his pain and tears from me and my family. I still remember him not wanting the nurses at the palliative care unit to look at him when he was crying and how ashamed he felt to have to rely on them for help. This makes me upset and makes me often wonder how much better he could have felt emotionally and mentally if only he had seen examples of men talking about their feelings, he could have felt better at accepting help and talking about his emotions. Which is why I don’t want other generations to go through that, and don’t particularly want to go through it myself. No person; whether male, female or transitioning, should be made to feel like they can’t talk about their mental health, as it is as normal as talking about physical health and a mental illness can affect anyone.

What would I say though to encourage others to speak out? After all I still struggle many days to cope with low mood and depression, and when facing new situations I still feel anxious. On top of that, everyone is different and experiences often vary on mental illness. What I can say though is that speaking out and talking about my mental health has allowed me to understand my coping techniques, what works for me and has given me assurance that even when things get rough, there are people out there who understand me, can help me and there are techniques and coping strategies I can employ to help me get through the rough times.

I have had recent experiences of this, from when I’ve felt really anxious about a situation. I get the usual feelings of sickness, my mind going round and round with theories on how the situation will go terribly and feeling like I can’t concentrate on anything but the situation. However, sharing how I feel in a safe space, either online to a friend from volunteering or in a mental health group I’m a member of online, has allowed me to find support from others who understand my feelings, make me feel recognised and understood and give me tips on how to cope better with rough days.

Thanks to my therapy, I now make a point of writing down how I feel when I’m anxious or depressed and I have also recently taken to doing calming exercises taken from mindfulness such as deep breathing and grounding techniques where you focus on something in the present and try to take your mind away from thinking you can’t cope. These all help, but it wouldn’t have been possible for me to employ these techniques without coming across them from friends and support groups. Which in turn wouldn’t have been possible without speaking out and talking about my mental health.

Society should encourage everyone to do this, and it should encourage people to see their mental health as worthy of the same treatment that their physical health is. So I urge anyone feeling depressed, anxious or worried about their mental health, talk to someone and get support for how you are feeling. Both you and your brain are worthy of the support.

Read Peter’s blog HERE and find him on Twitter.





  1. Tony
    27 January 2019 / 9:04 am

    Hi, so true, I was just straight up with my employers, plural even with my therapists both, my new one included thought maybe I shouldn’t have told them as they might just indirectly hold it against me. Trust me at 50, I have no time to bullshite people, take me as you see me, if you an issue with that – it’s your prob. I know too, it’s alot better if you are honest with people, it’s a great weight of your chest too.

  2. 20 June 2020 / 12:47 pm

    Hi Peter,

    I completely resonate with what you have wrote. I had a bad breakdown after the 2008 economic recession. I was graduating as a part 1 architect only to have no opportunity to practice. I then retrained as a teacher to unfortunately experience work place bullying at the hands of two mentors. This led me to having a breakdown and even, suicidal at some points. I went to the gp and i got the highest dose of citalopram and took lots of rest.

    I felt like I had failed and not due to my own fault.

    Anyway, eventually, after my tablets began to help and when I came out of my depression, I began to fight back and train myself in spanish and web design. I moved to London to practice web design, and felt very lucky.

    This luck was in part down to having a mother who was a holistic therapist and knew about lots of different therapies that could help. Her support and my experience as a web developer helped me begin my own venture seekatherapy.com. A directory of ALL types of therapists, find wellbeing events and wellbeing products on our ecommerce store.

    I also now help therapists improve their digital presence. All this because I had my experience of mental anguish and how therapy helps. Plus I knew men are more likely to seek help for themselves than ask for it.

    I thought by speaking out it may help just one other person like myself be able to find the ability to stand up again.

    Thanks for sharing your story Peter, I am sure it helps so many people!

    Take care

    • allmadhere
      28 June 2020 / 11:19 am

      Thanks so much for sharing this Peter. 🙂

  3. 21 July 2020 / 1:15 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story Peter and I look forward to visiting your blog to read more about your journey. Caz

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