Men’s Health Week: The Pandemic and Mental Health
13 – 19 June is Men’s Health Week 2022. This blog is centred on the relationship between the pandemic and mental health.
This is a topic we can all relate to, but men are less likely to be open about their mental health struggles. This is an unhealthy predisposition at the best of times, but especially so with the weight of the past year.
It’s a psychological fact that talking about our problems helps us to cope with them. Sharing these troubles and anxieties with others won’t necessarily solve their root cause, but it can lighten the load and make the day-to-day noticeably easier.
Research suggests that humans are a social species. We’re inherently cooperative and rely on interaction with each other for company and validation. This is partly why lockdown has been incredibly tough – we literally did not evolve to spend so much time alone.
As a result, our mental health suffers when we’re isolated. Along with depression, social isolation can also result in sleep deprivation, impaired executive function, cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function, and impaired immunity.
If you’ve ever felt any of these symptoms during a period of loneliness, don’t worry – the science is on your side. Willpower alone can’t necessarily right these neurological wrongs.
An easy remedy for the perils of self-isolation is human connection. Obviously, this is difficult in a pandemic, but there are still various ways to connect with those you care about.
Video chats are the most similar replacement for face-to-face in-person interactions. They can be awkward – internet issues, technology-averse family members and the horrors of staring at a tiny version of yourself plague us all – but there’s no better option for simulating the crucial social interaction we desperately need.
Alternatively, keeping in regular contact with friends and family via regular phone calls, texts or emails is perfectly fine for some. As long as you’re finding some way to acquire that external validation, you’re more likely to stay afloat.
It’s important to remember that we’re all different, and what works for some may not work for others. If video chats don’t work for you, feel free to try out other options. If texting is all you have the energy for, don’t feel bad about sticking to that.
The Physical Effect
Mental and physical health are intertwined. How we think affects how we act. For example, anxiety can increase the heart rate, cause heart palpitations and weaken the immune system; schizophrenia has been linked to heart & respiratory diseases; and depression can lead to diabetes, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease & arthritis.
Additionally, the tendency of men to keep certain issues bottled up extends to physical health. Certain issues that primarily affect men – e.g. male pattern baldness & erectile dysfunction – can be considered too embarrassing to talk about. But it’s important to remember that healthcare workers are trained to take every patient seriously. No health problem is too awkward or uncomfortable to be treated.
If you need some direction on your mental health struggles, or require our other services based around men’s health, please don’t hesitate to come and see us. We’re here to help.
Pushing past that initial hurdle and starting a conversation is the hardest part. The good news is, this gets easier over time.
If you want to book an appointment with an Imaan pharmacy, or want more details on the conditions discussed in this post, please visit our locations page to find your local community pharmacy.