The NHS in Blackburn with Darwen is hoping the storyline of one the country’s most popular soaps will encourage local men to think about mental health issues.
Millions of people have watched Coronation Street’s Steve McDonald come to terms with depression – the most common mental health disorder in the UK. Steve struggles to accept that depression can happen to someone like him.
Every year in the UK over 4,500 men kill themselves. Suicide is now the single biggest cause of death in men aged 20–49 in England and Wales, with men accounting for 78 per cent of all suicides in the UK while female suicide rates are declining.
Generally, men don’t always feel comfortable talking about their mental health concerns due to the stigma associated with it, which means illnesses like depression and anxiety can go undetected and untreated.
Local GP and the lead for mental health at NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Dr Tom Phillips, said: “The majority of men don’t like to appear weak and often believe they have to be strong and in control of their emotions at all times. It’s important that men realise depression is not a sign of emotional weakness or lack of masculinity. Just because you can’t see it like you can with a physical illness, doesn’t mean it isn’t real and it isn’t treatable. Depression affects millions of men of all ages and backgrounds, as well as those who care about them.
“There should be no stigma attached to having depression. We want men to push this to one side and to feel confident enough to talk openly, and seek help, about any concerns they have about their mental health so they’re not suffering in silence. Not talking about it can be detrimental to your long-term health.”
Depression affects how you think and feel about yourself but, like a physical illness, depression can be managed with treatment. Signs and symptoms can include all or some of the following:
• Lack of interest in work, hobbies and doing things you normally enjoy
• Low energy levels and lack of motivation
• Trouble sleeping
• Sleeping too much
• Lack of concentration
• Increased anxiety
• Anger or irritability
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions in the UK. Stress and feelings of anxiety are to be expected in stressful situations, however the feeling normally passes after those situations have ended. With an anxiety disorder, these feelings don’t go away. Signs and symptoms include:
• Hot and cold flushes
• Racing heart
• Tightening of the chest
• Snowballing worries
• Obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour
If you don’t wish to speak face to face with your GP in the first instance but you have concerns about your mental health, or that of someone you know, you can ring the Lancashire Care Wellbeing and Mental Health Helpline on Freephone 0300 222 5931. It is available Monday to Friday 7pm until 11pm and on weekends 12 noon until 12 midnight.
Notes to Editors:
For further information, please contact the Midlands and Lancashire CSU media team on 01772 214104