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Men, take 15 minutes for your mental health over the holidays

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Michelle Viera (front), and clients of her water aerobics company Fluid Fitness, raised funds to help men improve their mental health (Photograph supplied)

Generally speaking, when it comes to mental health, men don’t like to talk.

This year Michelle Viera decided to make it a bit easier for them.

With the help of the clients of her water aerobics company, Fluid Fitness, she raised $1,000 and donated it to Solstice, the holistic wellness centre in Hamilton.

Solstice will use the money to help men who cannot afford the cost of treatment.

“We’re grateful for the donation from Fluid Fitness,” said Kelly Madeiros, the group’s owner and director. “As a community we put a lot of emphasis on physical health rather than mental health. Being able to provide these services to men is going to make a huge impact.”

Ms Viera raised the money last month as part of Movember events held annually to draw awareness to prostate and testicular cancer, suicide and other issues impacting men.

“I try to do fundraisers for all of the cancer awareness campaigns every year,” she said. “As I was researching the Movember campaign website, I learnt that they include men’s mental health and suicide prevention now.”

As Ms Madeiros was a friend, she spoke with her about her fundraising ideas.

Solstice owner and director, Kelly Madeiros (Photograph supplied)

“She said that men’s health is one of those topics that is never talked about. So I decided to raise funds for men’s mental health this year. I don’t like announcing when I do something for charity, but if it gets conversations going and inspires others to raise funds for the men that need financial assistance, then it’s for a good cause,” Ms Viera said.

Ms Madeiros, a clinical social worker, thought it was a wonderful opportunity for new and existing clients.

“Through our intake process, we discuss the cost of therapy. If we have people who say, ‘I can't afford that’, or ‘I can only afford some of that’, then we will use the money towards those people.”

There have been times where men have had to stop therapy because “they've lost their job or something else has come up that they had to give more priority”, she said.

She added that being able to financially assist men so that they did not have to stop their therapy was key because simply reaching out for help was a huge step for many.

“It probably helps that it's a confidential phone intake with one of our psychology assistants, who are bound by strict confidentiality,” Ms Madeiros said.

“I think in Bermuda people are very afraid of who they're going to know, or whether their information will be shared.

“At Solstice the main priority is to keep people's confidentiality so we are hopeful that there are more men who will reach out.

“However, I do think that we have a long way to go in getting men to really acknowledge mental health, addiction, their physical health, and just taking care of themselves all around.”

Typically the centre helps men with “a broad range” of mental health issues.

“Everything from depression, to anxiety, to some phobias,” Ms Madeiros said.

“We get people coming in to talk about their relationships, or a childhood trauma that is impacting them now in their adult lives. They're recognising patterns of behaviour that stem from childhood issues that are affecting their relationships and their work and they want to get better or they want to be able to manage those relationships better.”

Michelle Viera (Photograph supplied)

The demands of the Christmas season are not any greater than the rest of the year, she added.

“There's always need. People, I think, put on a really good face around the holidays. I do think it's important to check in with people who may have been going through something, because the holidays are just a lot of hustle and bustle.

“Often with men, they don't want to talk about their feelings. So that can [play out with an] increase in drinking or drug use or other kinds of unproductive behaviours like gambling too much; behaviours that just are not healthy.”

A big part of the solution is to have men “not feel ashamed for reaching out and asking for help”.

“Until then, the patterns, the unhealthy behaviours will continue and they will have a negative impact on their lives,” Ms Madeiros said.

“We do have a lot of addiction in Bermuda – people drinking alcohol in excess and using cannabis and other drugs – and there's always some kind of unresolved trauma behind the unhealthy behaviours.”

A phone call is all it takes to get on the path to better health, she added.

“It’s a free 15 to 20-minute phone intake with our clinical psychologist. They go through general information such as the reason that someone's calling and then they'll discuss who they believe might be a great fit for that person given the vast amount of team members we have, all of whom specialise in different areas.

“And then they'll discuss the appointment time that's convenient for them and the cost and see if it's a good fit all around.”

Ms Madeiros continued: “If men can speak more openly about challenges that they're having, if they’re OK with reaching out for help, then the stigma for men and mental health will decrease – which is really important.

Michelle Viera (front), and clients of her water aerobics company Fluid Fitness, raised funds to help men improve their mental health (Photograph supplied)

“We are seeing more and more men come and seek help. I think in other countries, in bigger countries, it's not as taboo. But being a small country with so much stigma around mental health, we still have some work to do to make sure men feel comfortable when seeking help.”

For more information visit www.solstice.bm

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Published December 23, 2022 at 7:51 am (Updated December 24, 2022 at 8:02 am)

Men, take 15 minutes for your mental health over the holidays

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