News & Events

Defy expectations and ask for help

28 Sep 2018

With over 65% of our clients being male in our Residential Services, we hear from the new Director Residential Services, Mark Stevens, about the need to de-stigmatise men’s health.

“If you don’t ask, you can’t know,” says Mark Stevens, Odyssey House NSW Director Residential Services. “And if you don’t know, you can’t help.”

Despite government attempts to raise awareness of the early warning signs of both physical and mental health problems, Stevens says many men are still in the dark.

“A lot of men don’t ask because they don’t want to know the answer,” he says. “It’s the same reason many men don’t self-assess. That’s why many men aren’t aware they’re depressed or are drinking too much.”

If you wake up in a different mood, that can be an early sign that you need help.

“That’s when you need to ask yourself, ‘is this mood normal for me?’”

Stevens says that by asking yourself, you’re then empowered to ask your GP.

“Part of being male is the expectation that men don’t talk about their problems,” he says. “If you can become comfortable talking to yourself about them, then you can talk to others.”

It’s a two-way street, Stevens says: men need to be aware of the problems and be open to talking.

“At the same time, we need to be asked as well.”

At a time when more people than ever are in tune with physical and mental health, it’s important to get everyone on the same pathway. Encouragement and support to share and be open works, Stevens says.

“It does work, and the reason I do what I do is because I see every day that it does work. So many people recover, people you thought just couldn’t.”

For Stevens, a campaign that makes people think about alcohol and other drugs and the impact on mental health, and normalises it for men, is the vital next step.

“We have to make it a part of everyday conversation,” he says. “Once people start regularly thinking about things like how they feel after a night out or abnormal moods or feelings, they can talk about it.”