The popular #itsokaytotalk campaign by Rugby League player Luke Ambler is taking social media by storm. Ambler set the campaign going after the suicide of his brother-in-law. #itsokaytotalk urges men to talk about mental health problems and aims to reduce the number of male suicides per year.
As someone who very nearly did take my own life in the past, I was one of those statistics that this viral campaign draws upon. I was one of those 41% of men who had contemplated suicide, felt they couldn’t talk about their feelings.
Men are notorious for supressing and hiding our feelings, even to our closest of friends. As a bloke, the old gender stereotypes creep in and we find ourselves trying to ‘suck it up’, ‘be a man’, ‘don’t cry’. In a nutshell, a lot of us find it hard to talk about our feelings for fear of being perceived as weak and this also means that we find it hard to talk when we need to talk the most – when we are suffering from mental illness.
I can only hope that campaigns like #itsokaytotalk helps to further break down the barriers when it comes to men opening up and talking about their depression and other mental illnesses with their mates – be that over a pint, in the car, after football practice or just over the phone.