MEN and boys who have mental health challenges need to reach out for help to overcome their mental health issues, according to Gibraltar’s Minister for Equality Christian Santos.
His message came after a successful fireside chat to mark International Men’s Day recently that invited panellists to share their life experience to a packed audience at the Mayor’s Parlour.
Santos designed the event in order to break the stigma around men and boys getting help that if left untreated can lead to depression, violence or suicide.
It was Santos’ first attempt at a fireside chat after his predecessor’s women’s chats in the same format.
Sean Keating, Senior Well-Being Officer for the government and who runs ‘Walking Together’, a support group for those affected by suicide, skilfully led the panel discussion.
He talked about how suicide affects mental health in a family and the importance of supporting men’s mental health challenges.
“I believe we need to break the stigma of men talking openly about mental health, but we can only do that by opening up ourselves however vulnerable that might make us.”
Former firefighter Alfred Rovegno explained that mental health issues can affect anyone and empathy was necessary to help people cope.
“Admitting you need help is not a sign of weakness, in fact it shows great strength, courage and being brutally honest to yourself,” Rovegno said.
“Look in the mirror and tell yourself how proud you are of what you’ve achieved, you are trying your best.”
Businessman Navin Mayani said that the 60,000 thoughts a day the mind generates can be either positive or negative.
“If we feel we aren’t able to shift negative or challenging thoughts that trigger anxiety, sadness or worry, it is important to talk to someone,” Mavani said.
“This can be a therapist, a friend or someone we trust.
“Feeling heard, valued and understood can be transformative in our journey to heal.”
The minister summed up the session by saying that the courage to share personal information showed their ‘altruistic efforts to support others’.
He encouraged more men to reach out in what has traditionally been a traditionally entrenched society.
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