It’s not easy for most men to share their feelings and emotions, and when they are depressed most choose to keep it to themselves, especially in a place like Nigeria where myths and misunderstanding about depression and mental health still abounds.
The stigma surrounding depression leads men to suffer in silence and contributes to the growing suicide rate in the country. The importance of discussing mental wellness with your male friends, and being able to reach out for help when you need it, cannot be understated.
Recently, this reddit user asked for the best way to support a guy going through depression and the replies were enlightening:
A commenter by the name rat_boy_genius emphasised on the need to be present but not pushy, “Be there for him but don’t try to over empathize/be overbearing. People with depression tend to have pretty low energy overall, especially if he’s dealt with his depression for a long time. Offer to go with him to outings if he’d like, but again, be mindful of being too pushy. You can suggest therapy but there’s no guarantee that he’ll be willing to go — much less that he might be in therapy already. Last but not least — please be mindful of your own mental health. While I get you want to help your friend, you also need to remember your own mental health. Not to get too deep or whatever, but I find that a lot of people tend to think they can”cure” their friend’s depression by doing what have you. All you can do as his friend is say that you’re available to talk when applicable, suggest the solution of therapy, and potentially provide solutions that have maybe worked for yourself if you’ve suffered/suffer from depression yourself.”
Another commenter Wrong_Input shared a similar sentiment, “Keep in mind that just because he seems to be in a good mood, it doesn’t mean he actually is. People struggling with depression are often very good at acting happy. When my depression was at it’s worst, I was the happiest person ever… that’s what everyone thought, at least. What helped me was actually finding someone to talk to. I still struggle with it but being open about my feelings and issues helps tremendously. All you can really do is let him know that you’re there for him and make sure to be there for him. Don’t try to force him to open up, just make sure to be there when he decides to and don’t downplay whatever is bothering him.”
“Seeing a psychiatrist would be a good first step. The psychiatrist will be able to advise what’s best – meds, therapy, etc. and be able to point him in the right direction if he wants to find a good therapist.” intothewildthingscontributed
Similarly, another comment advised against trying to “put things in perspective” by saying how things could be worse, or pointing to people with what you might perceive to be “bigger” or “real” problems — this will only make your friend feel worse. Several commenters spoke on the guilt complex they have struggled with as a part of their depression; trying to remind somebody of the good things in their life will only compound this, and make them ashamed.
Regular contact, and letting someone know they can reach out to you (without pressuring them into talking) can have a positive impact, as one man recalled: “One thing I’ll never forget is my friend asking me to go to breakfast every Thursday,” he said. “It got me up and showered and in the sunlight before noon. It forced me to interact with people I didn’t know (cashiers). We’d just sit and talk about little stuff, she didn’t even know how much she was helping me back then.”
If you are suicidal or have a depressed friend who is suicidal, kindly call these help lines for professional help:
Lagos suicide hotlines, by the Lagos State Government: 08058820777 and 09030000741 – “through which residents can ask questions, make inquiries and seek help from professionals early enough to allow for appropriate intervention.”
LUTH Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative (SURPIN): 09080217555, 09034400009, 08111909909 and 07013811143.
Nigeria Suicide Prevention Initiative: 08062106493, 08092106493VTG: (+234) 810 857 2839