Men: it's OK to ask for help

By Geoff Lee

November 22, 2016 12:00 AM

ON DISPLAY Neil Harris, a health promotion facilitator with AHS, puts the finishing touch to a Men Matter display. Harris is making workplace presentations this month to help men learn how to deal with the mental health aspects of the downturn in the economy. The week of Nov. 19-25 is National Addictions Awareness Week in Alberta. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

Men continue to matter.
Neil Harris, a local health promotion facilitator for Alberta Health Services, is relaunching the #YLL Men Matter campaign for mental health awareness.
The program kicked off last spring, but its message that it’s a sign of strength for men who are coping with mental health issues related to the economy to ask for help, is relevant to National Addictions Awareness Week Nov. 19-25.
“It’s rolling out in November, but it’s a year round campaign along with all of the other work we do,” said Harris.
“The purpose of the Men Matter campaign is to promote more awareness about men’s mental health and it kind of falls in line with the downturn in the economy— the layoffs and the changes in the oil industry.”
He said job loss, layoffs and reduced work hours puts a lot of pressure on men and their families.
Harris said for men, a big part of who they are is connected to the work they do, so if they lose that job, it really has a big impact on them.
He noted that traditionally men don’t seek help when they’re struggling.
“When they are in a difficult situation they try to tough it out—sometimes that’s not a healthy way to cope with job layoffs or economic difficulties,” he said.
Harris said using a campaign like the #YLL Men Matter campaign simply reminds people that we all need to be aware of how we are dealing with the stressful situations that we may find ourselves in.
“So with the Men Matter campaign we’re promoting some important things to encourage men that it’s a sign of strength to ask for help,” said Harris.
He said by looking after themselves mentally and physically, men are going to be healthier for their families and for the workplace.
Depression is the second leading cause of disability worldwide that affects about 840,000 men a year in Canada according to a #YLL Men Matter flyer.
Harris said partners of AHS that provide counselling in the community have reported an increase in people seeking help for depression and anxiety with the change in the economy. 
Based on feedback from AHS’s Tough Enough to Talk About It workplace presentations, Harris said men want to listen and know who to contact if they need to ask for help. 
Harris said it’s helpful to talk about it with someone and get professional help if you need it.
He said staff are also asking men to let them know what it is they do to take care of themselves and to stay healthy mentally and physically. 
“Some of things men have told us is they spend more time with their kids, they go for a walk in the woods, they go fishing, they tinker around on an old vehicle,” said Harris.
“These are things that help them feel important,” he said.
Harris said several displays with information on the Men Matter campaign will be set up this week throughout the community in workplaces and the Servus Sports Centre.
“A number of businesses have asked to have this display up at their workplaces,” he said. Existing resources are available on the YLLMyHome.com website.

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