Happy International Men’s Day! This day was celebrated on 19th November 2022,  therefore, I thought it fitting that my first blog shared here on issues relating to mindfulness and EDI should be on men.
This day is a day to celebrate and to raise awareness about men’s health and wellbeing.
The motivation behind this day is the need to respond to the rise in mental health and other challenges which men seem to be increasingly vulnerable to. One tool which men could easily use to address mental health and esteem issues is mindfulness, yet men seem reluctant to take up the practice compared to women. One of the questions I hope to look at in my study is why men don’t embrace mindfulness in the way that women seem to have done so?
Whilst it is a well-known fact that mindfulness should not be practiced by anyone who is in a state of extreme mental health crisis regular mindfulness practice has been shown to help avoid depression and reduce stress key contributing factors to suicide and other mental health challenges. Mindfulness maybe an opportunity to reach out to and support men dealing with stress and anxiety. Mindfulness is also claimed to support those in times of grief after the loss of a loved one. 
It’s a startling figure that the statistics in Scotland last year showed, 75% of suicide victims were men of which the highest number were between the age ranges of 45-54. The majority of those sought help from their friends (49%) or family (37%). Around 18% sought help from mental health services, their GP or a therapist.  Whilst it is acknowledged due to Covid the reporting of deaths last year may be skewed due to a backlog in paper work the figures in the research the figures are still alarming. What is however clear is that most victims of suicide in Scotland are middle aged men from disadvantaged backgrounds. 
One study has found that men are clear about what help they need from support services. These include: an opportunity to make a contribution, a feeling of inclusivity, a chance to work towards common goals and peer support and feeling like they had shared experience with other people. Further the study found the range of factors that can play a role in suicide risk for middle-aged men, included, personality trait, masculinity, challenges of mid-life, relationship breakdown, emotional illiteracy and socio-economic factors.
The organisation, Campaign Against Living Miserably, (CALM)  launched a campaign with Netflix and Ricky Gervais to raise awareness about the number of men who lost their lives through suicide. After Life, is a British comedy- drama series created, written, produced and directed by Ricky Gervais who plays the lead character in the show which premiered in March 2019 on Netflix. They set up a number of After Life Benches in prominent public spaces such a parks and gardens throughout the country. Each bench has a QR code which enables a link directly to their website which provides access to help and support. The campaign gained much public interest and After Life/Hope is everything Benches are available from Simply Wood, who kindly give a donation to the campaign for each bench purchased. 
Mindfulness should not be practiced by anyone who is in a state of extreme mental health crisis and if anyone is being treated for stress and anxiety a medical practitioner should always be consulted prior to practicing mindfulness. Regular mindfulness practice has been shown to help avoid depression and reduce stress which in a number of cases are contributing factors to suicide and other mental health challenges. However, it appears that men are reluctant to take up this relatively easy preventative tool. It is worth asking why? Do men see this as an admission of vulnerability or is they way that mindfulness is often presented some how off putting to men?
If you have any thoughts on this I would love to hear them?
. Piper, Emily, “Towards Healing Ambiguous Grief with Nature-Based Expressive Arts Therapy, Embodiment, and Mindfulness: A Literature Review” (2019). Expressive Therapies Capstone Theses. 166.