5 minutes - that’s all it could take to make a lasting difference in someone’s day.
This year, the global charity Movember, famously known for helping to change the face of men’s health, created the 5 a Day Challenge - where participants make a commitment to spend at least five minutes a day connecting with someone who may be struggling1.
While the premise behind the challenge is simple, it’s impacts can make a massive difference on the mental health and wellness of others.
Due to COVID-19 and daylight savings, it’s more important than ever to check in on one another. Pick up your phone to send a quick text, call, or FaceTime to see what they’re up to and how their day has been going.
One of the best ways to support someone struggling with their mental health is by being there, and showing them they’re not alone. By checking in on others we can illustrate that we care and provide the help that they might need.
Not sure how to spark a conversation? Worried the conversation might be “too heavy”. It doesn’t have to be. Here are some helpful conversation starters, as suggested by Movember1:
"Hey man, what’s on your schedule for today?"
"How are you finding working from home? OR How are you feeling going to work?"
"I’m working my way up to becoming a Master Chef in isolation. Have you got any recipes you’ve discovered to share? OR Let’s both try our hand at making the same dish tonight."
"I’m seriously missing my sport fix these days. What are you watching instead?"
"I’m struggling to get motivated to work out. Are there any apps you have been using? Do you want to brainstorm an at-home session with me?"
If you’re concerned about someone who is going through a tough time and want to help but don’t know where to start, we encourage you to use the ALEC conversation model put together by the RU OK Organization:2,3
Begin by mentioning anything different you’ve noticed. Perhaps he left a group chat, or maybe he has been less active on social media than normal.
This may look something like: “You haven't seemed quite yourself recently. Are you okay?”
They may be afraid to open up. Don't feel bad about asking more than once, or in different ways - it could save a life.
Do your very best to give them your full attention, without distractions or interruptions. It is not your responsibility to diagnose problems, offer solutions or give advice. Simply let them know you’re here to listen, judgement-free. Follow-up questions are a helpful way to let them know you’re listening.
A follow-up question may look something like: “That can’t be easy. How long have you felt that way?”
Listening is crucial - especially when someone starts opening up about what they’re going through. There are many situations where they simply need someone to talk to and hear them out.
3. (E)ncourage Action:
Help them to focus on simple things that might improve their well-being. Perhaps there's something that's helped them before?
For example: Are they prioritizing sleep? Exercising regularly? Eating healthy?
It could be very helpful to suggest activities that you can both do together (ie. going for a walk, making healthy meal, doing a workout together).
Encourage them to also tell others that they trust about how they're feeling - making things easier for both of you. Should feelings go without change for more than two weeks, suggest they call their doctor. Offer to by their side when they make the call.
Suggest you catch up soon –be it a phone call, FaceTime or even just a message. Not only will this show that you care, but you’ll also get a sense for whether he’s feeling any better.
Remember - if you’re ever worried that somebody’s life is in immediate danger, go directly to emergency services.
Thanks to Movember for these simple, but effective tips, we can allow men to be more open with their mental health and wellness. We can take 5 minutes each day to start the conversation and encourage action.
Each hour 60 men are lost to suicide across the world. Let’s change that.
For More on Men's Mental Health: