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Be a man about it! Start thinking about your drinking.

Andrew Clarke

Aitken Partners is proud to be pro bono legal partners with beyondblue: the national depression initiative.

Men’s Health Week June 14 – 20, 2010

Clinical Adviser to beyondblue: the national depression initiative A/Professor Michael Baigent encourages men to “be a man about it” during Men’s Health Week, face some home truths about their drinking and if they need help, have the courage to ask for it.

“Men who drink a lot of alcohol need to think about why they’re drinking and ask themselves if they may have depression or an anxiety disorder,” he said.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem in Australia. One in five men is likely to experience an anxiety disorder at some stage in their lives1 and one in eight men will experience depression – and while both men and women can be affected, men are often more reluctant to do anything about it.

“A big problem for men is that they will often use alcohol to try to make themselves feel better about their problems – including mental health problems. Drinking out of necessity to cope with the symptoms of depression or anxiety is a dangerous pattern to fall into and can set men up to become problem drinkers. If they’re anxious about dealing with social situations, they may drink for ‘Dutch courage’ and they’re likely to drink more so they can ‘loosen up’ in order to cope.

“You don’t have to be caught in a cycle of drinking trying to wipe out your feelings. If you talk to a doctor, you can get help for the underlying depression or anxiety disorder and your drinking – but you have to be honest about how much you drink and how you feel,” he said.

“Although it may be more difficult to treat depression or anxiety if alcohol dependence is present, there can still be some improvements. However, we know that response rates to depression and anxiety treatments improve if alcohol dependence is also treated. Both can be, and ideally should be, addressed at the same time,” he said.

CEO of beyondblue Leonie Young said: “We know from research that men tend to put off seeing a doctor if they’re not feeling well and sometimes think they can make themselves feel better by drinking.

This week, with its focus on men’s health, I encourage men to talk to a mate about their health and well-being and if they’re not travelling too well, ring the beyondblue info line 1300 22 4636, visit the beyondblue website or see their General Practitioner.

“Men need not feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their mental health. Depression and anxiety are illnesses, not weaknesses or character flaws, and with the right treatment – most people recover. Looking after yourself means you will be in better shape to look after others,” she said.

Men’s Health Week is a national awareness week. To find out more go to www.menshealthweek.com.au

To find out more about the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders, and available support, visit www.beyondblue.org.au or call the beyondblue info line 1300 22 4636 (local call cost from a landline).

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