According to Mind, a mental health charity, women are much more likely to try and access mental health support than men (33% vs 19%), but the level of suicide in young men have continually risen throughout recent years. Samaritan pointed out that the level of suicide is consistently higher in males than females, throughout age and wealth statistics, and men in their 20s are particularly vulnerable to depression.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, gender roles and stereotypes can make it harder for men to express their feelings and seek help, because of stereotypes about ‘masculinity’ being linked to emotion. As if somehow, by admitting feelings of depression and anxiety, you are ‘less of a man.’
To be fair, I think this rhetoric is changing.
There have been various campaigns recently aimed at normalizing men speaking out about mental health problems. Most recently Prince Harry opened up about his own depression. You can read his interview here in the independent, which describes how he shut down his emotions up to the point he neared a mental breakdown.
Various video campaigns on social media have also shown male role models and celebrities open up about the last time they cried: watch one here. #boysdocry
Depression can be caused by stress, brain chemistry, hormones, genes (bloody parents) or by a traumatic event. The World Health Organization says that 300 million people are affected by depression and anxiety worldwide, so you definitely aren´t alone if you are experiencing any of these symptoms!
So what´s any of this got to do with being outside!?
Well. The great outdoors have been recognized as a cure for stress and anxiety throughout history. Following the industrial revolution, doctors would send distressed inner city workers to ´take the country air.´
More recently, we have seen scientists and doctors unite in research which clearly shows that being outdoors and connecting with nature can hugely reduce rates of depression. According to the University of Exeter 71% of participants in a study felt less stressed after taking a walk outside and the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that 20 minutes outside a day can boost mood and energy levels.
We are living in an era where more people than ever are living in cities, we are constantly connected to a television or smart phone screen and levels of depression and anxiety are frighteningly high in people of all ages and genders. We live in a society where increasingly less value is put on green spaces and we continue to pollute rivers, raze rainforests to the ground and build over nature reserves.
I´m really scared to think what might happen to environmental law when we leave the EU. Did you know that the European Court acts as an extra level of environmental protection? It means when the government builds a car park over a bio diverse environment, charities can take them to court and make sure that there are consequences. When we leave the EU the government will be the high authority on biodiversity and nature, not sure how I feel about that!
I worry about the mental health of the people I love, especially my father, cousin and boyfriend who might be less able to seek help and support. I worry about the environment, and about our access to beauty and nature.
These worries are linked, and by protecting one, we protect the other.