Men talking about mental health with friends in a pub could help ‘remove stigma’, says doctor
More than 5,000 men in the UK and Ireland took their own lives in the last year, accounting for 74% of all suicides
and live on Freeview channel 276
Encouraging men to talk about how they’re feeling while in the pub could help “remove the stigma around men’s mental health”, a doctor has said.
Research from men’s mental health charity Humen has found that 85% of men do not usually discuss their feelings with other male friends in pubs and bars, but Dr Kishan Bodalia says it is the “perfect environment” for them to do so.
He said men often hide their feelings for many reasons, including fear of appearing weak, embarrassment or not wanting to put their worries onto their friends, but with pubs being relaxed, informal settings they could be “a great place for men to get comfortable discussing their mental health”.
Dr Bodalia said working as an A&E doctor in the has taught him the importance of his own wellbeing as he often sees patients in life-threatening, emergency situations, who are suffering with their mental health. “Hearing their experiences can be heart-breaking,” he added.
At times, Dr Bodalia has felt “overwhelmed by the pressures of living a busy and stressful life”, adding that these “downward spirals” are relatable to many men.
Talking to others about your feelings on a regular basis is therefore a good way to maintain your mental wellbeing, Dr Bodalia said, as he explained that vocalising your struggles may help you to feel like a weight has been lifted off your chest. He added that conversations with friends or family may help you find solutions, while also letting them know that you need a little more support and care in that period of time.
By talking more openly, friends might then open up about their mental health too and “you can really be there for each other”, Dr Bodalia said, adding: “You’re not alone”.
This comes as Humen launches its Rise Against Suicide Pub Pilgrimage campaign, which aims to raise awareness surrounding the UK’s suicide rate in men. According to research, more than 5,000 men in the UK and Ireland took their own lives in the last year, accounting for 74% of all suicides.
The campaign will see those taking part walk 5,151m, a metre for each man who lost his life to suicide last year, aiming to raise £50,000 for mens mental health in the process. The walks will start and end at participating pubs as part of the campaign’s aim of encouraging men to open up about their mental health when at the pub. The pubs taking part are:
- London – Devonshire Arms, 7 Duke St, Marylebone
- London – The Old Coffee House, 49 Beak St, Soho
- London – The Two Bridges, 186 Tooley St, London Bridge
- Cardiff – New Inn, 75A Caerphilly Rd, Birchgrove
- Edinburgh – Athletic Arms (Diggers), 1-3 Angle Park Terrace
- Manchester – Atlas Bar, 376 Deansgate
- Brighton – the Victoria, Victoria Road in Portslade
- Nottingham – The Stage, 7a Wollaton St
- Leeds – Commercial Inn, 78 Elland Rd, Churwell
- Bristol – Fishponds Tap, 693 Fishponds Rd
- Birmingham – The Raven, 144 Hodge Hill Rd, Stechford
- Glasgow – Thornwood, 724 Dumbarton Rd
- Sheffield – The Loxley Sports Bar & Grill, Loxley New Road
- Newcastle – City Tavern, 10 Northumberland Rd
- Liverpool – Cross Keys, 13 Earle St
- Romsey near Southampton – Phoenix, 30-32 The Hundred, Romsey
Research found that on average, men go to pubs twice a week and spend two hours there at a time, with the campaign aiming to encourage men to start talking in pubs so that “we can remove the stigma around men’s mental health and promote this as a healthy, and potentially life-saving, behaviour,” said Dr Bodalia. “We desperately need to reduce the number of men who die by suicide.”
The doctor noted that settings where you are most comfortable are the best places to open up about your feelings and have “difficult conversations”, which is why doing so at home, on a walk in the countryside or even in a pub can help.
He also suggested thinking about how you would like to communicate your thoughts and feelings, if this is something you struggle with, considering if you would prefer a face-to-face conversation, a phone call or writing it down in a text message.
“Then, practise what you’d like to say, be honest and open in your conversation and suggest things that they could do to help,” he added.
Dr Bodalia said “men don’t talk about their feelings enough”, which is something he’s noticed in his own social circles. “Us men aren’t great at talking so my friends and I now actively check in on each other and encourage those difficult conversations.”
The Rise Against Suicide Pub Pilgrimage takes place on Sunday 4 December 2022.