In the UK we can see an epidemic of male mental illness and suicide sweeping across our country. 76% of suicides in 2014 were men, which works out to be around 12 men a day.
There are many reasons and forces that can be at work here, but I think a simple one can really be a key in unlocking some of this, friendships.
This is not knew thought and I am not an expert but what I am is a bloke who knows what it feels like to be lonely and desperate at times and not able to find anyone to talk to that ‘gets’ me, so I qualify.
In November 2015 the Telegraph ran a report about the state of friendships for lots of men in the UK with around 2.5 million men expressing that they have ‘no close friends.’*
What this report also found is that for men between their early 20s and late middle age the chance of ‘friendlessness’ almost trebles. Just over half of the men surveyed said they had 2 or less close mates with 1 in 8 saying they had no one at all.
Maybe you’re a bloke reading this and thinking, ‘I’ve got loads of mates, what’s all the fuss about?’ Or maybe you are a bloke who would fit straight into this frame and statistic, watching the friendship circles get smaller and smaller and not really knowing why or what to do about it.
One of the things I love about CVM is the way we advocate men getting together and becoming a band of brothers, great mates that really do care for each other where faith can sharpen faith.
We do this with various events and activities not because the event means much but it provides a platform for us to be together and intentionally cross our lives over. Too simple a solution? No, its not it actually works!
So often our environments can be what I call ‘sanitized.’ Like ‘clean rooms’ to talk and go over the surface pleasantries that don’t even get close to my troubled heart or black cloud that I just need help to shift. This sort of thing can happen on a Sunday at church with a soft biscuit and a cup of tea in a saucer in my hand. I am talking to men at church but the real me sits layers below bored of it all and desperately looking for more. Maybe I am not alone in this.
What’s the answer? Part of this is to encourage men to get up off the sofa and put the effort in. My wife sometimes has to really push me to get up and go and play in the local pub darts team on a Tuesday night. I would rather sit in and watch the TV but deep down I need to see the fellas. Once out, I then realize this is what I really wanted to do, so in short, encourage men to get intentional about making some mates and find ways to get real together. Mates and places where you can be honest, be wrong, be right, be challenged, be inspired and grow in your faith. That’s what I want, what about you?
Image Credit: Christian Spies