Each November, the Movember campaign seeks to raise awareness and improve mental and physical health outcomes for men around the world. Some show their support with symbolic moustaches, while others lend their voice to the overdue conversation about men’s mental health.
At the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), we have long advocated for increased awareness of the unique mental health realities faced by men, who are less likely to recognize, talk about, and seek treatment for their illness. In the throes of a global pandemic, the need to support men’s mental health and promote resiliency has never been greater.
Anecdotally, many men are acknowledging the challenge of being cut off from face-to-face interactions with their male friends, where casual dialogues can more easily turn to informal support. Some say that being jointly occupied in an activity can facilitate tough conversations, but without access to shared pursuits, these exchanges have fallen by the wayside.
For others, the mental health challenges wrought by the pandemic have been compounded by the loss of a job. The fact that nearly nine million people have applied for CERB is a stark reminder that, in addition losing income, social support, and even their sense of identity, many have lost access to employer-funded psychotherapies. The MHCC commends the federal government’s efforts to bridge that gap with the Wellness Together Canada portal.
The value of such universal support becomes even clearer when we consider the relationship between unemployment and suicide rates — particularly among men — who account for three-quarters of all suicide deaths in this country. More generally, past recessions have taught us that higher suicide rates follow rapid and unexpected downturns. The risk, again, continues to be greater among men.
But history doesn’t have to repeat itself. With the right investments, we can turn the tide on men’s mental health, improving outcomes and promoting resiliency along the way. In the current pandemic climate, the investments we make in keeping people employed, helping those who lose their jobs to cope financially and emotionally, and enabling unemployed people to return to work quickly are equally investments in men’s mental health.
Board Chair, Mental Health Commission of Canada
Mental Health Commission of Canada
613-683-3748 / firstname.lastname@example.org