This week the Welsh Conservatives are holding a debate in the Senedd to mark International Men’s Day, and I want to take this space to raise some issues that men are facing but feel unable to talk about.
Men, especially those over 65, in rural areas are particularly at risk of mental health challenges and sadly, these same men are less likely to seek mental health support with a survey finding that just over 2 in 5 men in the countryside were willing to reach out for support.
This is in stark comparison to men in urban areas where just over half of men are willing to seek help.
In the Western world, male suicide rates are three to four times higher than women particularly among those over the age of 65.
When we think of the impact of domestic abuse and sexual violence, a lot of the focus is on the impact on women.
While it is incredibly important to do so, and I am in no way undermining that work, we need to remember that one in three victims of domestic abuse every year are men, and one in six men will be the victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime.
I cannot stress how important it is to seek help if you are struggling and there is no shame in doing so.
Another area where men in particular can struggle is when it comes to having access to their children following a separation. I had the privilege of meeting with Both Parents Matter, a charity supporting men who have no access to their children through no fault of their own, an issue that can leave many men feeling hopeless.
There are a range of charities that support boys and men covering a wide range of issues including young men’s personal development, domestic abuse, fatherhood, infertility and both physical and mental health, and it is vital that men are made more aware of these services.
These charities play a pivotal role in supporting both boys and men in Wales and I want to express my gratitude for all the work they do.
As a society, we must work to combat the stigma surrounding men looking for help. There is no shame in it, nor is it a sign of weakness. If anything, it takes immense strength to reach out.