What is mental health?
Mental health refers to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we feel, think and act. It's about how we are feeling inside and whether we are able to deal with the stresses of day-to-day life, form relationships, and how we contribute meaningfully to the world around us. When our mental health is good, we are able to be in a positive mood about ourselves and our lives and can manage the ups and downs in our daily lives in a constructive and healthy manner.
Someone's mental health can be affected by a range of factors and can be split into three categories: biological factors, life experiences and someone's lifestyle. Biological factors include things like your genes and your brain chemistry. This is because many mental health issues have found to run in family's which would suggest that these issues may stem from someone's genetics, but also brain chemistry affects someone's mental health because feelings such as happiness, sadness, excitement, and fear are triggered and maintained by chemicals in the brain which are called neurotransmitters. For example, when it comes to happiness the release of serotonin and dopamine into the brain help to increase someone's level of happiness.
Life experiences such as trauma or abuse can lead to mental health issues as it can lead to people misusing alcohol and/or drugs to try to cover or forget the memories of the trauma which leads to bigger problems. Finally, someone's lifestyle which include things like their diet, physical activity and substance use can really affect someone's mental health. Physical activity can really improve someone's mental health as physical activity increase the release of serotonin and dopamine which are both 'feel good hormones', and therefore will help to lift your mood and have an overall benefit on one's mental health.
Mental health statistics in the UK
1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year.
In 2020, 51.2% of women suffered from mental health issues.
In 2020, 37.4% of men suffered from mental health issues.
In 2022, 18% of children aged 7-16 had a probable mental disorder.
In 2022, 22% of young people aged 17-24 had a probable mental disorder.
These statistics are quite alarming as people as young as 7 years old are suffering from mental health issues in the UK in 2022. This is alarming as they are so young, and these issues now could potentially shape their future lives and so clearly more is needing to be done in addressing adults' mental health but also children's mental health. Especially in children, early recognition can help to offer support to them and help them reach their full potential rather than letting it get worse and leading to more problems in later life. It can help to improve their home and family life, which in turn will enable them to perform better in school and improve their mental health.
The stigma around men's mental health
There is a stigma around men's mental health, which can lead to it being challenging for men to seek help and support when they really need it. This stigma can be shown in various ways, such as the expectation that men should be tough and unemotional, the idea that mental health is a "women's issue," and the fear of being seen as weak or vulnerable if they admit to having mental health problems.
This stigma can cause significant barriers to men accessing the help and support they need if they are suffering from mental health problems. Studies have shown that 40% of men suffering with mental health issues have never spoken to anyone about their problems. 29% of these said they were "too embarrassed" to speak about it and 20% say there is a "negative stigma" on the issue. This shows that this stigma is causing men to suffer in silence which is a massive issue and can lead to their issues getting worse. Therefore, it's crucial we tackle this negative stigma and create safe spaces where men can talk openly about their mental health issues without the fear of being judged and discriminated. This can be done by raising awareness and educating people on mental health more, as it's a subject that doesn't really get spoken about enough. This will also help tackle the problem of gender stereotypes and expectations and so will help to encourage emotional expression and help men to seek help and support when they really need it.