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Health and wellbeing / Personal wellbeing

Useful Guides

Men's Health Week (MHW) is designed to give all boys and men access to the information, services and treatment they need to live healthier, longer and more fulfilling lives.

Last year MHW focused on raising awareness of how men were being impacted by Covid-19 and the aftereffects of the pandemic. This year the theme is to highlight the importance of taking stock of your overall health now that the worst of Covid-19 is over.

While the pandemic has taken so much focus, it is important to be conscious of other serious health conditions, so, for this year's Men's Health Week, which runs 13th to 19th June, it's time for men everywhere, to give themselves an MOT.

To find out more about how to get involved, visit the 'Mens Health Forum' website.

At any one time, about 20% women report having a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety disorder.  What is the figure for men? 

At any one time 12.5% of men report having a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety disorder men compared to about 20% women

What percentage of patients using NHS first line talking therapy services are men?

36% of patients using NHS first line talking therapy services are men.

What percentage of men say it would take thoughts of suicide or self-harm for them to seek help?

40% of men said that it would take thoughts of suicide or self-harm for them to seek help.

7% of women say they have no friends. What is the figure for men?

The figure rises to 11% for men.

80.9 per 100,00 of women are detained under the Mental Health Act (which is  commonly known as being ‘sectioned’). But what’s the figure per 100,000 for men?

This rises to 88.96 per 100,000 for men.

A large percentage of those sleeping rough have mental health issues. But what percentage of those sleeping rough are men?

87% rough sleepers are men

What percentage of adults who go missing are men?

73% of adults who go missing are men.

About half of all prisoners have mental health issues. But what percentage of the prison population are men?

95% of the prison population are men.

3.3% of women are dependent on alcohol.  But what is the figure for men?

The figure rises to 8.7% for men.

In 2019, what percentage of suicides in England were men?

In 2019, 76% of suicides in England and Wales were men (ONS Sept 2020). Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45.

For more information, read the 'Key data on mental health, at the 'Mens Health Forum' website.

Last year's theme for Men's Health Week was 'Time for your Man MOT'. This check in with yourself remains as important as ever with Men's Health Forum advising:

  • Take notice of what's going on in your body and mind.
  • Do the CAN DO challenge.
  • Get an NHS Health Check.
  • Go and see your GP or use NHS 111 if you're concerned about any symptoms.

The ‘Can Do’ Challenge

The five ways to wellbeing are five things we can all do that are scientifically proven to help us feel better.

Take part in the CAN DO Challenge by choosing a different way to wellbeing each day of the week.

Every day, a different way

The five ways are:

  • Connect
    • Connect with other people (eg. call an old friend you haven't since before lockdown) #connectmonday.
  • (Be) Active
    • Move your body (eg. go for a run/walk/swim/dance/etc) #activetuesday.
  • Notice
    • Take notice of the environment around you (eg. turn off your phone for an hour) #noticewednesday.
  • Discover
    • Learn something new (eg. read a book you haven't read before) #discoverthursday.
  • Offer (or give)
    • Do something for someone else (eg. volunteer for a local community group) #offerfriday.

Read more about the five ways to wellbeing.

Tip 1: Just Breathe!

Breathing exercises are a useful technique to help you relax. The following 4-5-8 method is very simple:

  • The numbers in the name '4-5-8' refer to the number of seconds when breathing in, holding your breath, and breathing out.
  • Start by sitting up straight in a comfortable position or lying down.
  • Slowly breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds. If you can’t breathe in through your nose, use your mouth.
  • Hold your breath for 5 seconds.
  • Breathe out slowly for 8 seconds.
  • Repeat this cycle 10 times, or as many times as you want. While you do it try to concentrate on your breathing. You can alter the seconds to suit you.

This NHS Trust has <more breathing exercises you can try>.

Breathing exercises usually benefit wellbeing. But if they aren’t working for you, or are causing you difficulty, stop using them.  You can try other relaxation techniques or contact your GP for advice on managing stress and anxiety.

Tip 2: Practice Mindfulness

  • Mindfulness is all about being in touch with and noticing the world around you. Try these simple Mindfulness exercises next time you start to feel stressed or anxious.
  • Mindfulness when brushing your teeth: Concentrate on how the brush feels in your hand, the sensation of it brushing your teeth, the feeling of your feet against your bathroom floor, the smell and taste of the toothpaste. It’s amazing how much we experience in the space of 2 minutes brushing our teeth!
  • Mindfulness with a piece of chocolate or a sweet: Put it on the back of your hand. Concentrate on how it feels against your skin. Pick it up and feel its texture. Look at its colour. Smell it. Put it in your mouth and let it dissolve without you biting into it. Experience how that feels. This also has the added benefit of making chocolate and sweets last longer!
  • Mindfulness usually benefits wellbeing. But if it isn’t working for you, or is causing you difficulty, stop doing it.  You can try other relaxation techniques, or contact your GP for advice on managing stress and anxiety.

There is more information about getting started with mindfulness on the Mindful website.

Tip 3: What keeps you up at night?

Problems with sleep can affect how you feel physically and mentally, and how you feel can also affect how you sleep. An August 2020 study from the University of Southampton showed that the number of people experiencing insomnia increased from one in six to one in four compared to 2018/19, with more sleep problems affecting young people, mothers, essential workers and BAME groups.

Problems with sleep are often caused by

  • Life events: You may feel distracted, stressed or worried about something going on in your life while you’re trying to go to sleep, which can affect your ability to relax.
  • Thinking cycle: Anxious thoughts about not getting enough sleep can cause distress, which can prevent you from relaxing and falling asleep.
  • Lifestyle: Developing poor habits around sleep, such as not having a regular routine.

It’s common to experience periods of poor sleep, and this doesn’t usually point to a serious mental health problem. However, here some tips on how to improve your sleep

  • Create a regular sleeping pattern
    Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day will programme your body to sleep better.
  • Create a restful environment
    Your bedroom should be a peaceful place for rest and sleep. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool when you’re trying to sleep.
  • Exercise regularly
    Moderate exercise, such as walking, can help relieve some of the tension built up over the day. Try not to take part in vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, as it could keep you awake.
  • Watch what you’re eating and drinking
    Cut down on caffeine in tea, coffee, energy drinks or sugary drinks, especially in the evening. Caffeine interferes with the process of falling asleep and prevents deep sleep. Instead, have a warm drink such as herbal tea. Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, can interrupt your sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you to fall asleep initially, but it will disrupt your sleep later on in the night.
  • Keep a sleep diary
    If you’re worried about your sleep why not keep track of how many hours you’re sleeping and the kind of sleep you’re getting– you may see patterns of behaviour which you can address. You can download the sleep tracker from our partner Mental Health UK .
  • Wind down routine
    Learning how to relax both your body and mind will help you to get to sleep more easily. Have a warm bath, listen to quiet music or do some gentle yoga to relax the mind and body.
  • Write down your thoughts
    If you tend to lie in bed thinking about everything you have to do tomorrow, set aside time before bedtime to make plans for the next day. Avoid thinking of plans when you’re in bed, trying to sleep.
  • If you can’t sleep, get up
    If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again, then go back to bed.

Tip 4: The Stress Bucket

  • Imagine there’s a bucket you carry with you which slowly fills up when you experience different types of stress.
  • Sometimes you feel strong enough to carry a lot of stress, but it’s important to find activities which help you lighten the load.
  • What helps you reduce stress?
  • How can you keep those activities going when other pressures build up?
  • Think about the “Stress Bucket” together to prompt you and your colleagues to take action to build your resilience.

The Stress Bucket is now available for download.

Dopamine is an important chemical in your brain that affects your mood and influences your motivation and feeling of reward, however excessive screen use can create a ‘dopamine loop’ which causes a surge of dopamine to be released and triggers the brain’s reward centre. This can be damaging as it can become compulsive as your brain is constantly seeking the same level of reward.

Ways to keep your dopamine levels consistent include:

  • Eat a protein rich diet
  • Reduced saturated fat consumption
  • Get in to better sleeping habits
  • Get regular exercise
  • Listen to music
  • Meditate
  • Reduce screen time


To keep healthy, men need a wide range of nutrients which can be sourced by a healthy diet.

Studies show that eating nutrient-rich foods is fundamental for better health and lowers risk of disease. 

Below are some essential vitamins and minerals for men:

  1. Vitamin D 

    Vitamin D is great for your immune system and can benefit you by helping your body to absorb calcium. Vitamin D becomes even more important with age. Some key sources of vitamin D include milk, egg yolk, and fatty fish.

  2. Folate

    Folate is a B vitamin that is needed for supporting energy levels, normal psychological function and boosting mood. Folate can be found in food such as spinach, asparagus, nuts, and beans. 

  3. Calcium

    This mineral helps to maintain healthy muscles, nerves, and bones. It’s particularly important for men in their 20s to get enough calcium. Milk, yoghurt, and cheese are all sources of calcium. 

  4. Vitamin C

    Eating fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C is associated with lower risks of health problems for men. This vitamin can support the nervous system and iron absorption. Vitamin C can be found in foods such as oranges, pineapple, broccoli and peppers. 

  5. Potassium 

    Potassium helps reduce the blood-pressure raising effects of sodium, which means it’s a vital nutrient for keeping blood vessels healthy and preventing heart disease as men age. Potassium can be found in mushrooms, sweet potatoes, melon, bananas and tuna. 

  6. Magnesium

    Many men do not get enough of this mineral. Magnesium can support healthy muscles, nerves and bones as well as boosting your immune system and preventing heart disease. Nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables are good sources of magnesium. 

  7. Zinc

    Particularly if vegetarian, men can lack in zinc. This mineral helps make proteins throughout the body, fights infection and heals wounds. Zinc can be found in red meat, seafood and poultry. Beans and wholegrains provide some zinc, but it is not absorbed as well. 

Register for your free Whelthy Plan

As a member of the NHS you are entitled to free unlimited access to Whelthy.

With Whelthy you will gain unlimited access to an online platform packed with exclusive recipes, nutritional advice, workouts, mindfulness, videos, blogs and even a lifestyle journal, all geared towards educating, motivating and inspiring you to smash your health and fitness goals.

To subscribe today, simply follow the instructions below and use the code HEROES100 when prompted.

  • Visit the 'Whelthy' website and click ‘subscribe now.’
  • Click ‘buy now’ then enter your free access code in the discount code box and click ‘apply.’
  • Click ‘checkout’ then fill in your details and click ‘continue.’
  • Click ‘return to homepage’ and then ‘my Whelthy’ in the top right corner of the screen.

This will take you to your personal Whelthy dashboard. You will now have been sent a welcome email with info of what the site includes (check your junk folder if it isn’t in your inbox).

Worried about someone’s mental health?

This factsheet explains what you can do if you are worried about someone’s mental health and explains how to get them help and support they need.

Download the full factsheet from our partners, Rethink Mental Illness.