COMMENT:

This is a comment a male acquaintance made to me the other day and it made me realise how many men don't talk about their mental health or their problems.

They don't comprehend how depression works if they haven't faced it or had someone they know face it.

I was shocked at first that someone who is intelligent, caring and a great guy could seriously think someone of status couldn't feel depressed and dismissed it as something anyone could just 'snap out of '.

It wasn't his formed opinion on depression — he was ill-informed, like most of us, to mental health issues.

Advertisement

This echoes other conversations I have had over the years, especially with older men, who would be frustrated or upset with a friend who they thought didn't have the "right" to be depressed.

Having suffered post-natal depression myself, I know how it feels to plaster on a smile and pretend everything is okay, just like thousands of others dealing with that dark cloud.

It was only when a Plunket nurse pushed me to talk about how I was coping that I broke down and told those closest to me that I really wasn't okay.

I was ashamed and afraid of judgment and that's why I kept it in. A sentiment shared by thousands of people.

As a woman I'm lucky to have friends who aren't scared to talk about the hard stuff. I had support from Plunket post-birth and generally find it easier to speak about what's going on. It took a push but I got there, because I had people ask how I was.

Three out of four people that take their lives in this country are men. Statistically, men have the most friends of their life while in high school. Their friendship circles get smaller as they age, whereas women's expand. Men become more isolated and their outlets to discuss what's going on for them dwindle.

I'm so passionate to having these open and honest discussions around mental health with my all my friends, male and female, and with Movember approaching, now is as good a time as any to have them, so we can help one another understand this awful illness.

So please, don't only check in on your friends who you think are having a tough time. The strong, silent type also need checking in on. It's okay to not be okay and it's okay to to ask your mates how they are feeling. It's not prying, it's not being weak and it could save a life.

If you need help

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111. Or if you need to talk to someone else:
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (Monday-Friday, 1-10pm. Saturday-Sunday, 3-10pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
Samaritans: 0800 726 666.