It’s Giving Tuesday and there are many worthy causes out there to which you could contribute. You could look abroad and see how your dollars could change lives, but the truth is you don’t have to look all that far from home to make a difference. Some of the biggest challenges in people’s lives play out just below the surface, but have far reaching impacts. One such struggle is men’s depression and suicide prevalence.
Depression is a mental health condition that affects millions of men, and it’s more than just having the blues. Depression is more than sadness and it takes lives. Men account for 3.5 times the number of suicides as women and it’s a public health issue that needs to be addressed.
Something that gets in the way of men getting treatment is stigma. Popular media messaging reinforces concepts of toxic masculinity that silence meaningful conversations on the matter. “Real men don’t cry” is just one example of how men are perceived that can be really damaging to someone looking to get help.
A local organization, HeadsUpGuys, has been working hard to change this, to take away the stigma and get men talking about depression. They made a huge difference just in the first year, as illustrated in this powerful video.
They have run successful awareness campaigns sharing the stories of everyday men who have battled depression and come back from it. They also lobbied for the City of Vancouver to declare June 14 Men’s Mental Health Awareness Day and hosted a public art installation to bring mens’ depression out in the open – literally. They physically took apart the constructs of how we perceive masculinity and re-assembled them on the lawn of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Volunteers were on hand to pass out information and speak with members of the public.
HeadsUpGuys produced a really unique conceptual photography project around depression to mark World Suicide Prevention Day. Their project co-ordinator, Joshua Beharry, is a suicide survivor turned mental health advocate who has shared his story as a beacon of hope to others to show that there is life after depression and their contributions can be meaningful and make a difference.
Their website is full of resources for men who think they might be suffering from depression as well as tips for those who suspect their friends or family might be. They are written in really accessible language and bridges the gap between every day people and complex medical and psychiatric research to facilitate the conversations that help connect men with help to address their problems.
To help get people talking, HeadsUpGuys have produced a number of compelling videos like this one, which speaks to depression and how men can help each other and themselves just by reaching out.
HeadsUpGuys was developed through the generous support of the Movember Foundation and is based at The University of British Columbia (UBC) and forms part of the Men’s Depression and Suicide Network. HeadsUpGuys’ finances are split between one part time staff member, website maintenance, campaigns, and promotional costs.
This Giving Tuesday, they are a worthy cause to consider directing your donations. You can donate on their website as a one time gift, on an ongoing basis, or in memoriam of someone special. Men’s depression is a serious problem, but you can make a difference this Giving Tuesday, right in your own backyard.