Mental & Health Hygiene: Men’s Health

Anne Rollins MS CSSD RD LDN

This blog was going in a completely different direction until…

Last night, breaking my own “no screen time :30 before bed” rule, I caught a glimpse of Shemar Moore on SWAT.  The scene depicted a man, as macho as they come, struggling with the possibility of his close friend and mentor’s potential suicide.  I was drawn in.  Finishing the episode well after my bedtime, my interest was piqued at the topic of suicide, increased suicide amongst men and even higher rates among male law enforcement.   Nicely done cast, writers and production team for bringing these issues more into the public light, dispelling the stigma one scene at a time.  Moore delivers the line, “I know I am more likely to die from suicide than being killed in the line of duty.” (paraphrased). “The single greatest cause of death for law enforcement officers each year is suicide,” says Jeff McGill, vice president of B.L.U.E. Help.  In 2018, 159 US officers took their own lives, 151 male and 8 female.

Shame, weakness, avoidance and lack of acceptance for mental hygiene sets a desperate stage, but we are beginning to pull back the curtain and acknowledge mental health and hygiene (maintenance of mental health) as important and normalized parts of wellbeing.

My father, not in law enforcement, took his own life in 1988 after a previous likely, yet unsuccessful, attempt at suicide.  The environment was not conducive to therapy of any kind, and medicines were viewed as a sign of weakness and/or failure.  I make sure to let people know this is how he died now. I hope that someday, when someone must say their loved one suicided, people place that information in the same category as someone who may have died of an infection before antibiotics were discovered rather than a shameful and tortured cause of death we sometimes see today.  Talking about mental health increases the chances that someone will reach out for help with less shame (some day none!) and with hope.

Want to help? What to do? 

  • Support and encourage men to visit their primary care doctor annually
    • Exercise regularly – walking in the fresh air is soothing to the mind
    • Socialize regularly – connecting with other people helps mood
    • Find someone to talk with – start with the family dog, they never judge
    • Eat well – include food with vitamins, minerals, and add lemon to beverages

Google some stress management techniques and see what works for you. In this case, some is better then none.

There are many things to do to improve mental health and hygiene. Search out organizations that can support you if you feel you are in danger of hurting yourself or someone else. 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800.273.8255

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