15 Nov, 2023

Let’s talk men’s mental wellbeing

Pacific men bbq serious park

We've put together some helpful information from depression.org.nz and Movember for men who may be finding times a bit tough or are concerned for a mate or family member who isn’t quite his usual self. In Aotearoa 1 in 8 men will experience serious depression during their lifetime. Men are also three times more likely to complete suicide than women.

They are also less likely to ask for help when they really need it. Reaching out for a chat or some support when life’s challenges feel overwhelming is never a sign of weakness or failure. Being able to talk with someone when you’re struggling is a sign of great strength.

What affects men’s mental wellbeing?

The reasons that men develop anxiety and/or depression could be obvious due to a specific event or because of many different things over time. Sometimes there is no obvious cause at all.  Some of the common pressures that can cause depression or anxiety in men include: 

  • physical injuries
  • relationship difficulties
  • major life changes, like becoming a dad
  • problems at work
  • unemployment
  • redundancy
  • retirement
  • financial problems
  • not having close friends to talk to
  • divorce and separation from children
  • addiction to drugs or alcohol

What are the signs?

It’s important to know the signs of anxiety and depression. The earlier someone gets the support they need, the sooner they will feel better and able to look to the future positively.


The symptoms of anxiety can develop slowly. This makes it hard to know when normal worrying thoughts have become too much. Here are some common anxiety symptoms to look out for:

  • hot and cold flushes
  • shaking
  • racing heart
  • tight feeling in the chest or chest pains
  • struggling to breathe
  • worries that get bigger and bigger
  • a racing mind full of thoughts
  • a constant need to check things are right or clean
  • persistent worrying ideas that seem 'silly or crazy'

For more information about anxiety visit depression.org.nz


It’s important to take the signs and symptoms of depression seriously, especially if they last for more than two weeks, or if someone feels unsafe. If you are in any doubt, call the Depression Helpline 0800 111 757 or talk to a doctor. Here are some common signs of depression:

  • constantly feeling down or hopeless
  • having little interest or pleasure in doing things you used to enjoy

Other possible signs and symptoms:

  • irritability or restlessness
  • feeling tired all the time, or a general loss of energy
  • feeling empty or lonely
  • sleeping problems - too much, or too little
  • losing or gaining weight
  • feeling bad about yourself or things you have done
  • problems with concentration
  • reduced sex drive
  • thinking about death a lot
  • thoughts of harming yourself

If you’re worried about a friend or family member you may have noticed that they are:

  • not sleeping
  • eating less or more than usual
  • forgetting to groom (no clean clothes, not showering or brushing teeth)
  • avoiding social situations
  • missing social or sports events
  • going quiet on social media or messaging apps
  • being more irritable than usual
  • talking of death and dying or increased hopelessness

You can help

The first and most important thing you can do is offer to listen to them. Showing genuine care and checking in regularly can make all the difference to someone. Don’t worry, asking how someone is won’t make things worse. Here's a really helpful tool from MOVEMBER so you can practice talking about this with someone and keep the conversation going in a positive way.

Being prepared for these tough conversations will make it much easier for both of you and increase the chances of them getting some more support. Click here to practice before the actual chat.

It is common for people who have depression to also feel anxious as these symptoms can overlap. That’s why it’s good to be aware of the signs and symptoms for both depression and anxiety. For more information about depression visit depression.org.nz

Watch Buck's Story

“Buck got back to the gym to help cope with the loneliness and grieving he felt after becoming separated from his kids. Eight years on, he’s still training, and with the support of others he’s been able to overcome his depression.”

So what next?

Having a low mood or feeling on edge are common experiences for all of us. But when these moods don’t go away, it could be depression, anxiety, or both. If you’re not sure what to do next, taking a self-test could help you decide. These tests from depression.org.nz ask some important questions that can help someone who feels this way understand why.

Getting support

Breaking barriers within the Pasifika community about mental health is a really important step and will allow Pacific men to speak up and get support when they need it, not when things are critical, and a life is at risk. There are feelings of shame and guilt in talking about mental health, but there are Pasifika focused support services in our communities, ready to support our men and work with them through these common life experiences. Talking really helps and is the best first step forward for anyone who is struggling. Many of us have experienced loss, a papa, toko, uso, dad, son or brother within our families or communities and there are no words for the grief and immense pain this brings to all. To find out how The Fono supports mental wellbeing in the Pasifika community visit Healthy Minds.

O le tele o sulu e maua ai figota, e mama se avega pe a ta amo fa’atasi – My strength does not come from me alone but from many.

Samoan proverb

Urgent Support

Urgent support is available for you or someone you know by calling: 1737 Need To Talk (1737) The Suicide Crisis Helpline (0508 828 865) Lifeline (0800 543 354) Youthline 0800 376 633 or free text 234. You can also use their online chat. The Lowdown NZ Free text 5626. They help young people in particular Alcohol and Drug Helpline 0800 787 797 or free text 8681 Alcohol and Drug Helpline – Pasifika line 0800 787 799 or free text 8681

Remember: If you're ever worried that someone's life is in immediate danger, call 111 or go directly to emergency services.