COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the mental health of Canadians, according to Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). With many Canadians facing job loss, job insecurity, financial stress, anxiety, and fear and uncertainty surrounding the virus, it is no wonder that people are having trouble coping.
“If you were to ask me at the beginning of the year how I was doing,” said Matthew Drummy, a thirty year old bartender from Toronto, “my answer would be a lot different than it is today.”
As soon as the pandemic began and the city locked down, Matthew was laid off work and has since been isolating in a small apartment with his long-time girlfriend who is also unemployed.
“It’s been a whirlwind of anxiety. Something I’ve never experienced before. There has been lots of ups and downs,” he explained.
27% of Canadian men reported that their mental health had worsened since the pandemic and 34% stated they felt lonely more often, according to a survey conducted by men’s health charity Movember. However less than half of the men surveyed reported seeking help from friends, family, and other sources, compared to 58 per cent of women.
Regina based trauma therapist Sidney McGillicky said men are often more physical and reactive in how they manage stress compared to women, as stated in a GlobalNews story.
“Everyone is different, but generally speaking, men will internalize stress and often shy away from exploring their emotions,” he said.
Social connection can help lower anxiety and depression, increase self-esteem, and improve the overall mental health of a person. Quite simply, ‘checking in’ or asking someone how they are doing, can make a difference.
"People know it's important to have conversations to support others; however, confidence and knowledge around how to do this with men is low," said Brendan Maher, Movember Global Director of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.
In response, the organization recently released Movember Conversations, an interactive online tool, that offers practical guidance on how to start a difficult conversation and support someone who is struggling. This tool lets you experiment and practice questions and responses, giving you the skills and confidence to approach difficult conversations with the men in your life by learning to: Ask, Listen, Encourage action, and Check in.
While expressing emotions may be unfamiliar and the conversations uncomfortable, now more than ever, it is important to reach out and check in with others.
But Movember isn’t just waiting for Canadians to come to them to learn about the implications of the pandemic on the mental health of men. They are also partnering with organizations like Haven Toronto to raise awareness and help support men who are particularly vulnerable during this time. While we have all felt the strain and the stress of the pandemic, the struggles and risks facing those who are homeless are even more heightened and complex.
To show their support, the Toronto Movember Committee is hosting a Open Mo’ Night, a virtual open-mic music night featuring a variety of local and cross-country musical talent and special guests to raise funds for clients of Haven Toronto.
Please join them on Saturday July 11th for a terrific evening and help make a difference for elder homeless, marginally housed and socially isolated men. See event details here: www.openmonight.com
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