The Roman Kemp documentary, ‘Our Silent Emergency’, on BBC iPlayer highlights the very real threat of mental health – in particular, the rising mental health crisis in young men in the UK. He travels across the UK talking to people of various backgrounds about mental health and suicide in an accessible way. Please only watch it at your discretion.
Despite this month being one celebrating women and women’s history, the patriarchal stereotypes of past years do not only negatively impact women. They paint a picture of an emotionless and dominant man which perhaps has led to this mental health crisis. Kemp dives into the potential causes of suicide or mental illnesses in men through his documentary. Some causes may be the rising pressures all in society face through social media or the idea that ‘men don’t cry’ which still persists.
In England alone, around one in eight men suffer from a common mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). However, these are only the ones that come forward for help. Many other men and young boys struggle in silence, not wishing to make others around them feel uncomfortable. The lack of discussion of how they are feeling can lead to the development of suicidal feelings or suicide, which for men is three times the rate of women.
This societal attitude of boys and men not needing to talk about their emotions exists so deeply that even going to a therapist can be seen as bad. Although we are all rightfully taught that this is not the case, many still either fail to recognise their need to talk about how they are feeling or do not want to as they have to maintain appearances.
Sadly, particularly during lockdown, suicide rates have grown in number as people are even more isolated from those that love and care for them. This has seen, as highlighted by Kemp, a particular growth in the numbers of young men and boys taking their lives.
In the documentary, Kemp emphasizes the need for all to ask after their loved ones and to tell them that they care. For anyone struggling mentally, this can help a lot as it proves that there are people who love and need them. In the age of ever-improving technology, sending a text or ringing someone is an easy way to keep in touch.
Kemp, after speaking to a group of boys in Ireland, also spreads the message of asking twice. This means asking if your friends are okay twice. The second time, if someone is struggling, can lead to the individual talking about how they are feeling more deeply. Talking, no matter to whom, is one of the best ways of therapy for many people.
As suicide is the highest killer of young men and boys, talk to your friends and ask how they are. Twice.
If you or someone you know may need help, contact one of these helplines: