12 Nov 2017

The struggles of being an Aussie bloke in 2017. Are we listening?

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    Listen to men

The struggles of being an Aussie bloke in 2017
My thanks to Author Rachael Bolton additions and editing by Stephen W T Read

Australian men are feeling a bit lost and ignored, according to men’s health experts and advocates.

The rise of social media and its impacts on the way families balance work and domestic responsibilities have left a lot of blokes feeling disoriented and unsure of their place in the world.

Speaking to The New Daily at the National Male Suicide Prevention Conference in Parramatta this week, Liberal MP Julian Leeser said the message he was hearing from men in the community was one of frustration and bewilderment.

“Obviously, there are a whole range of different men in different circumstances in our communities,” he said, “but I think people today just generally have a sense of frustration.

“They feel like people aren’t listening to them and they’re not being paid attention to.”

The role of men in society has changed and been challenged so much over the last 30 years and it’s going to change even more.”

Its a great thing that we now have equality of men and women, but the set of values and traditions that had previously underpinned men’s perceived role in society is changing – things that for many men gave them a sense of respect and pride – is now under challenge.

So yes, there is a sense of frustration, bewilderment, and a sense that people aren’t always listening to their concerns.”

This sense of voicelessness is also something that comes up in the work of wellbeing specialist and men’s health advocate Rae Bonney.

“I hear a lot from men that they are feeling sad. Just sad. Overwhelmed. Frustrated and hurt. We talk a lot about anger with men, but I don’t see a lot of that. They feel excluded and overlooked,” she said tearfully.

In Australia, 75 per cent of all suicides are committed by men. In certain high-risk groups like army veterans, police officers and paramedics, that statistic can be over 85 per cent.

Contrary to popular belief, a lot of suicides are also committed by persons with no previous mental health diagnosis.

Many are precipitated by a single or confluence of situation stressors that cause hopelessness in the individual such as (but not limited to) relationship breakdown, adverse family court rulings, loss of a job or family member.

These suicides are referred to as “situational” and account for a large proportion of deaths. Identifying persons at risk and finding practical help to relieve and resolve those stressors can be life-saving.

Contrary to popular belief, conversations with men about how they’re feeling are not hard to have.

“Create an environment of safety and security, that preserves dignity and pride for men and men will then talk.

However when men are judged and criticised and told, ‘you need to/you should,’ that’s when men shut down and feel overwhelmed. They don’t know what to do so they retreat.”

Some of these feelings are confused by their upbringing, their fathers and mothers brought them up believing that men don't cry and that they are the breadwinners and head of the household.

How many people can relate to these simple examples. A boy hurts himself and he's told don't cry, to take it like a man,suck it up, grin and bear it. In other words they have been taught to hide their hurt from an early age.
Whereas if its a girl, its oh dear have a good cry, let me kiss it better.
On top of that we have these same stereotypes shown in the media reinforcing these same examples of manliness all the time.

“If you Google ‘the rights of women in Australia’ or ‘the rights of children in Australia’ the amounts of resources and pathways to help that we have are endless.

If you Google ‘the rights of men in Australia’ all you will see is narrative around domestic violence being perpetrated by men – no rights at all.

“The number of men I speak to who are being violated by women and other men and can’t talk about it and choose suicide as a method of relief – is heartbreaking.”

If you or someone you know is struggling, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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