Most men are expected to be strong, physically, mentally and emotionally. They do not often share emotions or discuss what they feel.
In a 2019 report by Helene Schumacher for BBC, she discussed that although women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and attempt suicide, “the male suicide rate is still several times higher” across the world.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that in 2016, there were an estimated 793,000 suicide deaths worldwide, noting that most of them were men.
Experts believe that most men are struggling to share their emotions, because most men “tend to bottle them up,” because society told them to be strong and never admit that they are struggling.
“We tell boys that ‘boys don’t cry’,” Colman O’Driscoll, former executive director of operations and development at Lifeline, an Australian charity that provides crisis support and suicide prevention services, told BBC in an interview. “We condition boys from a very young age to not express emotion, because to express emotion is to be ‘weak’.”
This is why Bristol dad set up a dog walking group in South West England to help the other guys open up about their emotions.
Rob Osman, a father of one, had struggled with anxiety and depression in the past and believes he is not alone in the battle. Knowing that other men were like him, too, he set up Dudes & Dogs to create a space where men could relax and talk about how they feel.”
“The aim of the group is to create an environment where people can relax and drop their barriers,” the 38-year-old said. “It [walking a dog] is a good way to do so because you do not have to look at each other in the eye and are in an open space.”
Osman said he suffered with social anxiety back when he was just a teenager. Later on, he found out that walking his dog ‘Mali’ allowed him to relax more and noticed how it changed his mental health for the better.
The group has been taking walks in Bristol, but Osman hopes to train more “dog dudes” or facilitators to expand the activity towards other areas such as south of Wales.
“The dog dude will facilitate the walk and will have a dog with them,” Osman added. “Let’s go for a walk [is much easier to say than] let’s have a chat.”
If you or you know someone who needs help, you could reach the National Center for Mental Health here through the following numbers: 0917 899 USAP (8727) or 0917 989 8727.
You might want to read:
– How pets can get you through stress, anxiety and depression
– Dog ownership linked to longer life especially for heart patients
– Stressed out? Your dog might feel it too, study suggest