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Opening up about mental health as a young man: Lewis’ experience
Men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women, yet many men feel they can’t talk to other people about how they are feeling. We spoke to Lewis about why he feels young men might struggle to open up, and how it was a men’s talking group that supported him when he was at his lowest.
This article mentions suicidal thoughts
“In the last few years, I started to really feel like there was nobody there for me and that I was truly alone. Because my friends didn’t speak out about feeling down or worried, I assumed it was just me, and didn’t realise that other people feel the same sometimes.
Last year I hit my ‘rock bottom’ and would just sit in my room in bed. Everything felt dark and I felt like I had no life, or at least not the life I wanted. I felt like it was difficult to reach out, I just always seemed to end up back in my room as I found it so hard to open up or face people. I would be up awake during the night or crying, and one night, I really wanted to end my life completely. I started walking around my local area, pacing the streets with no clear direction or aim, I just felt so desperate and like there was no way out, there was no life for me.
Things began to change when I joined a men’s talking group. Even just being there and listening to other people, knowing I wasn’t alone, made me feel a lot better. Once I did feel able to talk, It really helped having that outlet to speak out to people who might not necessarily be close to me. The more I did this in the group, the more I felt able to speak out to family and friends. I also joined the gym and started taking up running. I found running was really great at clearing my mind and releasing energy built up.
I feel like men are scared to talk as they don’t want to be seen as less ‘masculine’ for talking about feelings, they feel they have to be the ‘bigger person’ as a man and be the one with everything together and no issues. I realised that actually, being the bigger person is being able to talk and be honest. Now I have spoken to my friends about my experience, and I share my experience online on TikTok, I’m hoping it means my mates feel like they can talk to me if they ever need to.
I recently decided to tie in my interest in talking more about men’s mental health and running, by fundraising for Mental Health UK through running daily in July. So far the challenge has been great, although I did have to take a break due to catching Covid-19!
If I could give any message to any young lad who is struggling out there, it would be to talk. If you don’t want to talk to someone you know, there’s lots of other options, such as online charities, support groups or online forums. Just getting it out there how you’re feeling, really makes so much difference.”