International Men’s Day on 19th November celebrates the positive value men bring to the world, their families and communities. This year’s theme is ‘better health for men and boys’.
It goes without saying that as an Osteopath, health is a topic I’m very passionate about. But time and time again, I’ve seen first-hand how reluctant some men can be when it comes to opening up about their wellbeing. Especially their mental health.
Men and their mental health
According to the latest stats, in England, around one in eight men have a mental health problem like depression, anxiety, panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). And sadly, male suicide hit a two decade high in England and Wales in 2019. With men accounting for around three-quarters of suicide deaths in the same year*.
In my line of work, it’s generally a physical ailment or symptom that brings patients to my clinic. But I’ve long been a believer in the close link between physical, mental and emotional health. And for us to function properly as human beings these need to be in alignment.
Luckily, unlike often overworked and under pressure GPs, I have the privilege to properly explore the background to my patients’ issues. So, we might find out that the origins of the longstanding neck pain coincide with a painful separation or an increase in stress at work. And for men particularly, these emotional stresses and strains are still not something they often talk about.
Seeking help for the physical
But when emotional issues go unaddressed they can often develop into physical ones. And that’s when men tend to act. The most common physical manifestations of emotional include:
- headaches, backache or other aches and pains
- grinding of teeth, especially at night
- the ability to heal from physical injury – from simple to complicated
Big picture, little picture approach
Taking the time to work through a full history of how and when the problem started and what else might have been happening in a patient’s life, especially preceding the onset of symptoms, can be illuminating.
Sometimes, it may be appropriate to refer the patient for further psychological evaluation via their GP. However, over the years, I have developed my holistic approach and this, together with the range of additional tools at my disposal, may help to determine and then treat the cause of a patient’s symptoms:
- Naturopathy– based on the idea that the human body knows best how to heal itself naturally. We work with patients to identify factors that may be undermining their health and develop an individual plan to tackle problem areas.
- Neuro linguistic programming (NLP)– enabling us to change our thought habits to enable us to alter how we feel.
- Autogenic training– a potent relaxation therapy with powerful abilities in restoring, healing and developing mind and body. We teach patients a set of lifelong skills and exercises to use whenever and wherever they want.
- Western Acupuncture– fine needles target trigger points associated with certain ailments to help with pain relief and so on.
- Low Level Laser Therapy (or LLLT)– low power or ‘cold’ laser light is used on problem areas to alter cellular function, improve outcomes and speed up the body’s natural healing process.
If you are suffering, please don’t suffer in silence. There are a range of charities to support the wellbeing of both men and boys. Or, if you are struggling with longstanding physical issues and might benefit from a holistic approach, please do get in touch.
*According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)