International Men’s Day: Why men should talk about their mental health
While poor mental health can affect anyone, men are statistically far less likely to talk about it or seek help.
This is troubling, as in England roughly one in eight men have a common mental health problem like depression, anxiety, or panic disorder. Of course, it’s likely this number is higher as many men never seek out help. This means a large amount of the population is dealing with poor mental health in silence, with no support.
Only around a third of psychological therapies are accessed by men, and this method of support can make a huge difference to someone who might otherwise be dealing with their mental health alone.
Around 40% of men surveyed said it would take thoughts of self-harm or suicide before they would reach out for mental health support. But the earlier someone seeks help, the sooner they can start learning effective coping strategies, getting medication, or accessing mental health advocacy.
Just talking about your mental health makes it easier to cope with. Below are five reasons why men should talk about their mental health.
5 reasons why men should talk about their mental health
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK
In the UK, over 4,000 men commit suicide annually. Men make up 75% of all suicides in the UK.
There are many different factors at work that contribute to this, but if more men felt able to talk about their mental health, it would make a drastic difference for the better.
Men are more likely to adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms
Men are around three times more likely than women to become dependent on alcohol or drug use as a way of coping with their mental health.
Gambling levels among men have skyrocketed during the pandemic, which can further damage mental health through stress or guilt, and can often create a loop where men will gamble more to try to feel better, making things worse.
Social media can make men’s mental health worse
This number rises to almost 50% in men aged 18-34, who typically spend more time on social media.
Unrealistic expectations from social media can make men feel like they’re not as attractive, successful, or active as other people, and put pressure on them to seem perfect, which can lead to mental health difficulties.
The pandemic has made men’s mental health worse
Almost half of men said the pandemic made their mental health worse.
Isolation has of course had an impact on everyone, but with men less likely to reach out for support, or to ask how their friends are doing, it meant many men were struggling with no one to talk to.
Talking about mental health normalises it, and makes it easier for other men
While society has come a long way in terms of fighting the stigma around mental health, many men still feel that having mental health issues is a sign of weakness, something to be embarrassed or ashamed of, and that admitting it will cause others to see them differently.
But when more men come forward and talk about how they’re dealing with their mental health, it makes easier for others to do the same.
Why men don’t talk about their mental health
Besides existing stigma around men experiencing mental health issues, there is a deeper problem: generally, men aren’t raised or socialised to talk about their feelings.
Many men are raised to be strong, stoic, to always be ‘fine.’ This is reinforced as they grow up, with other boys and men always acting as if nothing is wrong.
‘From childhood boys are told to keep quiet about emotions and that men don’t talk to each other… It became tiring and I became very withdrawn. I felt forced to conform.’ – Mind focus group participant
However, things are getting better. Men are now three times more likely to see a therapist than they were ten years ago, and are now equally as likely as women to seek help from their GP is they’re feeling low.
Social media has allowed men to speak out about their feelings, find support, and help others feel confident in sharing about their mental health.
As more men talk about how they’re doing, it becomes easier for others to open up.
Warning signs of poor mental health in men:
Lack of sleep, or feeling a lack of rest after sleep can be a sign of depression
Sudden mood swings, explosive anger, or irritability at little things can be signs of poor mental health
Lack of motivation
A lack of motivation, or general low mood, is a sign of depression.
A low appetite or lack of interest in food can signal something may have changed mentally.
Excessive drinking or risky behaviours
Drinking more, gambling, or drug use can be signs of depression.
If you or someone you know has been exhibiting these behaviours, check out our mental health support services, or read more about why men need to talk about their mental health.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, visit the Samaritans website, or call them on 116 123, or call HFEH Mind on 0208 571 7454
Posted on: 19th November 2021