Why Do We Celebrate International Men's Day?
Every year on the 19th November, 80+ countries celebrate International Men’s Day. This is celebrated by all individuals (women, girls and non-binary too!) by acknowledging the positive value men bring to our world and local communities. International Men’s Day is a crucial way of highlighting a few of the social issues that men and boys face, as well as opening up discussions around sensitive subjects that lead us to making a difference for the male community.
The core themes of this year’s celebrations include:
Making a positive difference to the wellbeing and lives of men and young boys;
Raising awareness (and funds where possible) of charities supporting male wellbeing/mental health;
Promoting positive conversations around men, manhood and masculinity (and even debunking some of the myths of ‘common knowledge’ we claim to know about men)
The celebrations also address key issues in men’s lives such as the increasing male suicide rates, stigma and associations around manhood, men’s health risks and male victims of violence (including sexual violence). These issues are often ‘hidden’ from society due to centuries of associating men with ‘strength’ and the modern-day interpretation of this that has kept their problems and suffering quiet.
Today, we’re here to talk!
Statistics We Should Talk About
Around 32 men die from Prostate Cancer every day
In 2019, 3996 men in England and Wales took their own lives
Covid-19 mortality rates are higher for men than women
40% more women attend university than men
Men make up 85% of rough sleepers (homeless individuals)
96% of prison inmates are male
One in three victims of domestic abuse are male
These statistics demonstrate the necessity of spreading awareness around men’s mental and physical health and evidence the huge need to continue discussions around suicide, violence and other socio-economic factors.
How Can We Support Men?
Firstly, having conversations with the men and boys in our lives about their mental health and wellbeing can help to eradicate the stigma around men discussing their fears, problems and suffering. It’s equally as important for men to get talking, but is often seen as more difficult due to the ideas people have around masculinity being linked to strength, and a tough exterior. Instead, we should be teaching young men and boys that it’s completely okay to converse about their troubles as this leads to an increased sense of support that in turn really can save lives!
There are also an array of forums for men who might not want to talk to people they already know. These involve online discussions and open conversations around mental health. Forums are a great way to get support and even provide a helping hand to others. You could celebrate this International Men’s Day by checking these out, here are some we recommend:
Another way we can support men is through spreading awareness and educating others on the health problems which are a higher risk for males. Many men aren’t aware of the risks of Prostate Cancer, and may not even know when to get themselves checked out. Although symptoms of Prostate Cancer are rare, it is still important to know what they are! For more information on this visit https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/prostate-cancer/symptoms
How Can Volunteering Help?
Volunteering is generally undertaken by more women than men, with the proportion of people that do one day of volunteering per year being only 26.4% male (WCVA 2019-2020). We’re making it our International Men’s Day mission to increase our male demographic of volunteers.
Volunteering can have a positive impact upon mental health. Brendan Burchard said in his book ‘High Performance Habits – How Extraordinary Become That Way’ that “volunteers are spirited, positive people. They are givers. You want to be around that spirit of service for your own personal and spiritual development anyway”, demonstrating the point that volunteering can be incredibly beneficial for personal growth and a positive mental outlook (https://brendon.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Excerpts-HighPerformanceHabits-Habit3-Necessity.pdf). It can be a real way to de-stress and take time out of your typical schedule, and it has also been shown to boost self-esteem and build confidence.
As well as this, volunteering can also help make you feel a part of your local community, engaging with people you otherwise might never have met and providing a renewed sense of purpose. Furthermore, aside from benefiting your mental health and local community, it also can help to develop your skillset and make you look much more desirable for future employers, or even influence your future career decisions. For more on the benefits of volunteering take a look at our recent blog.
One of our trustees, Kieran Vass, mentioned that his volunteering experience helped him to feel engaged with the local community and also influenced his career path, leading to a job within the charity sector:
“Volunteering at SVC has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. I joined SVC as a lead volunteer in my second year of University and over six years later I'm still here. It's great to be part of a community of people that work collectively to bring about change and make a difference to people's lives. Since joining SVC I've been part of many fantastic projects and I truly cannot recommend volunteering enough to anyone who is considering it. I've used the skills, knowledge and experience gained volunteering at SVC to secure myself a full time Career for a social care charity. If you've got any questions about volunteering, get in touch with the team at SVC who will be more than happy to help”.
Another one of our male volunteers spoke about the benefits of volunteering on their mental wellbeing:
“Volunteering offers me a sense of purpose, wellbeing and enjoyment that is unrivalled by anything else. In a world where few moments are undistracted, I find helping others is a pure, positive experience, and it functions as meditation, learning opportunity and social event all rolled into one. I truly believe you're not fully yourself until you help others”.
You can also listen to some of our volunteers talk about their experiences through these video links:
Our Winter Giving Week (w/c 6th December) is the perfect opportunity to get involved in some one-off activities, especially if you don’t want to commit to one of our regular projects or want a taste of volunteering to know what you'd enjoy. Hear more about this closer to the time through our social media pages.
Also, if you wanted to sign up to one of our projects alongside a friend, this is something we can cater for on many of our regular projects including Quiz Club, Young Carers Club, Going Green Together and NHS Meet and Greet. Volunteering with friends is another great way to help others whilst having fun and can even contribute to the social bonds and connections you make on the project. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if this is something you’re interested in doing by contacting the project coordinator for the relevant project, or through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Actions You Can Take Today For International Men’s Day
If you’re interested in getting involved in celebrating International Men’s Day (male, female, young or old it doesn’t matter), here are some of the things you can do:
Spread awareness about International Men’s Day (possibly on social media) or get your friends to join in the celebrations
Find an event running near you, and take the time to learn something new about men
Host a virtual game, educational quiz or fun activity for your friends
Research an influential male, look at how their contributions have positively affected our society
Channel your own feelings; take some time for you! Get creative (drawing, writing, dancing or whatever floats your boat) and celebrate your own masculinity
Teach your children about the importance of talking through their feelings, or simply reach out to someone who may need your support
Raise awareness about the issues men face, find out what is needed to help these problems
Some Final Tips From Us
We wanted to share some tips on keeping a healthy mind (these apply to everyone; men, women, trans and non-binary individuals):
Healthy Body: eat well, exercise often, reduce alcohol intake
Healthy Lifestyle: take care of your relationships, maintain a healthy work-social life balance
Healthy Mindset: always be mindful, set goals and tasks to achieve them, use mental health and wellbeing techniques to reframe negative or unhelpful thoughts
Healthy Connections: talk with your friends, especially if you’re struggling! Know when and where to get help (even if it doesn’t feel like you need it right now)