Men and mental health
As with many mental health statistics, it’s hard to know if the figures really represent what is happening as they can only tell us about mental health problems that have been reported – many cases may go undiagnosed. This may be especially true when it comes to men’s mental health.
Its a fact that many men don’t appear to be able to, or want to talk about their mental health, or issues they may be going through that can cause mental health issues. It can been seen by some a ‘being a softy’ or ‘in touch with your feminine side if you talk about stuff’ but this is not the case, and sadly too many men are suffering in silence because of these stereotypical viewpoints.
In England alone, around one in eight men has a common mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder (Nov 2020).
Some facts to consider:
- Three times as many men as women die by suicide.
- Men aged 40-49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK.
- Men report lower levels of life satisfaction than women according to the Government’s national wellbeing survey .
- Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women: only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men.
- Nearly three-quarters of adults who go missing are men.
- 87% of rough sleepers are men.
- Men are nearly three times as likely as women to become dependent on alcohol, and three times as likely to report frequent drug use.
- Men are more likely to be compulsorily detained (or ‘sectioned’) for treatment than women.
- Men are more likely to be victims of violent crime (1.5 more likely than women.
- Men make up the vast majority of the prison population. There are high rates of mental health problems and increasing rates of self-harm in prisons.
(data taken from mentalhealth.org.uk and valid Nov 2020)
In many circles, men are often expected to be the ‘breadwinners’, to be strong, dominant, ‘manly’ and in control of their lives, which can make it harder for some men to reach out for help and open up.
Research also suggests that men who can’t speak openly about their emotions may be less able to recognise symptoms of mental health problems in themselves, and therefore less likely to reach out for support.
Men may also be more likely to use potentially harmful coping methods such as drugs or alcohol and less likely to talk to family or friends about their mental health. However, there is research to suggest that men will access help when they feel it meets their preferences, and is easily accessed, meaningful, and engaging.
Is depression different for men?
While there isn’t a different sort of ‘male depression’, some symptoms are more common in men than women. These include irritability, sudden anger, increased loss of control, risk-taking and aggression.
Men are also be more likely to use alcohol and drugs to cope with their depression rather than talking about it, and they may use escapist behaviour too, such as throwing themselves into their work.
If you’re experiencing depression, there is help available.
Suicide and men
In 2017, nearly 6000 suicides were recorded in Great Britain. Of these, 75% were men. Sadly suicide is the largest cause of death for men under 50.
Higher rates of suicide are also found in minority communities including gay men, war veterans, men from BAME backgrounds, and those with low incomes. Less well-off middle-aged men are particularly likely to die by suicide. This may be because they experience lots of well-known risk factors for suicide: socioeconomic hardship, unemployment, relationship breakdown and lack of social support.
If you are anyone you know may be suffering any form of mental health issues please do seek proper and professional help as soon as possible. Websites and organisations that can help are: