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Speak Out About Men's Health

Jesse Bigelow, who lives with schizophrenia and is a member of SSO’s speaker’s bureau, describes his younger self as being “angry and rebellious” which didn’t lend well to reaching out and getting help for his mental illness. “My delusions were so real I didn’t think I needed help,” Jesse says. “Eventually I was admitted to the hospital where I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and eventually stabilized on medication. It was very scary because I didn’t know anyone with the illness.”

Men’s health is a relatively new concept in public discussion and in research circles. With the myth that men should be tough and not ask for help for the fear of being seen as vulnerable, men have long suffered physical and mental illnesses in silence. Now the popularity of ‘Movember,’ a movement that raises money and awareness for men’s health, the conversation is starting.

Here are some facts about men’s mental health:
  • 1 in 10 Canadian men will experience major depression in their lives.
  • On average 7 men each day take their lives through suicide in Canada.
  • Depression affects 840,000 men every year in Canada.
  • Men usually develop schizophrenia at an earlier age than women.
According to Purple Weber, SSO’s Early Intervention Family Worker, there are many different reasons why men are reluctant to get help. “Men are more private and have the expectation that they have to solve problems by themselves,” she says.

“Many times men delay treatment until the situation gets worse or becomes a crisis that they cannot cope with on their own.”

Purple is a facilitator of Strengthening Families Together (SFT), a four week education and support group for family members of individuals living with serious mental illness, and says that 70% of the attendees are women. Though Purple is starting to see more men in SFT, she would like to see more. “There are more young men, fathers and couples in SFT who are looking to help their family members,” she says. “In the future it would be great to see more male facilitators who would bring more men in to the program.”

“From a young age boys learn that they are supposed to be macho, never show weakness or cry,” Jesse says.

“Men need to remember that they are not going through this alone. 

"Being a peer support to someone going through mental health struggles is important and is something that would have helped me a lot when I was younger. Treatment is starting to change, people are more open to talk about mental health which can help men reach out.”

Check out these resources to learn more about men and mental health:


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