Gay men are most likely to reach out to other gay men when they’re depressed or anxious and new resource will make it easier for men to support their friends.
LGBTI are more likely to experience depression and anxiety than the broader population. They are also at a greater risk of suicide and self-harm.
A 2013 survey of gay men found 80% of participants had friends who had depression. 75% of those men had experienced anxiety themselves.
The survey also found that gay men felt most comfortable turning to other gay men for emotional support.
But what often held many back from being proactive about supporting their friends was they were worried about saying the wrong thing.
Craig Mack, 40, has had a long history of mental health challenges. He first tried to take his life when he was just 16.
Just days before his third suicide attempt four years ago, Mack wished one of his friends would reach out and ask how he was doing.
‘I just wanted someone to notice I wasn’t myself and say ‘hey man, what’s going on’,’ he said.
‘But no one noticed and it felt like nobody cared.’
Mack knows how isolating depression can be, but also knows the power of one phone call from a friend to shatter the ‘negativity constantly swimming around in your head’.
‘Just being there; listening and asking small questions is enough to let someone know they’re not alone
and that they do have someone who cares about them,’ he said.
Be a good wingman
Australian mental health organization beyondblue decided to create a resource to help gay men with supporting their friends.
The Wingmen website offers expert advice, resources and an online network of support for gay men who
are worried their partner or friend may have anxiety, depression or be suicidal.
Asking someone if they were feeling depressed or suicidal wasn’t an easy conversation to have but that’s where Wingmen can help.
‘We all want to be there for our friends,’ said beyondblue Board Director Professor Michael Kidd
‘But sometimes we worry about having these kinds of conversations.
‘Wingmen gives practical advice, tips and resources to help prepare for those conversations.’
If you or someone you know needs mental health help, please visit this link for a global list of support services.