The problems of the pub and the impacts on men’s mental health.
The Pub: The home of laughs, ladies, and lager. The one constant on the night out, pres at the pub, end at the pub or even just stay at the pub. For many men, the pub is the only place where one can truly be themselves and forget about all that drama outside the doors in the real world. All until that infamous bell rings for last orders and you desperately reach for your wallet in search of spare silvers to get that last taste of bitter froth on your tongue. But when your mates leave and you’re left stood on the steps waving them goodbye, you walk home, alone again. At home, you sit abandoned, sinking into the settee, devouring tonight’s feast of ready noodles and spare stellas. All to wake up cold, hungover, and alone.
We’re currently in a time where men’s mental health issues are arguably the highest they’ve ever been, with 1 in 8 men having issues with mental health at some point in their life. Many men feel lonely in a digital age, struggle with addiction, depression, anxiety, and stress due to mass unemployment and traditional expectations of the man. We also live in a time where pub and alcohol consumption are at a high, with 4.6 billion litres of beer sold in 2021 .
The issues with the pub and mental health coincide, running alongside side by side like the evil twins from The Shining. According to the Mental Health Foundation 1 in 4 men feel unable to talk to friends or family when feeling stressed. And what’s even more worrying is 1 in 3 men have suicidal thoughts when feeling this way. This isn’t just the case for stress, it’s an issue for most mental health problems.
Although the recent surge in campaigning for men’s mental health has led to an increase in awareness of the issues, many men are still unequipped to deal with the common problems for young men like stress, addiction, anxiety, and depression. Building up the courage to confess to your mates about the issues at home or in your head, just for them to pat and you on the back and say “poor fella next ones on me mate, I’m here for you”, is very underwhelming. The truth is that most men wouldn’t know what to say if their mate confessed their depression to them, so offering a pint is the next best thing to professional help. This doesn’t mean your mates are crap mates it’s just, most men don’t know how to talk about their own mental health issues so it can be hard for them to talk to others about theirs.
There are many reasons as to why only 36% of all psychological referrals are men. One of the most common is traditional gender roles, the idea that the wife stays at home making cottage pie and the husband works 5 days a week on the site, pub on a Friday and watches the footy at the weekend to do it all again. Week in, week out. We can talk about gender roles and how toxic masculinity is the real problem but the cold hard reality is that you’re not going to get Steve The Plumber painting his nails and wearing skirts in some kind of hippy protest against societal norms of toxic masculinity. These norms have been set in stone for decades. It’s what men were raised on. For a lot of people, it’s all they know, and frankly a lot of men are happy and comfortable with that kind of life.
However, the problem is it doesn’t leave much room for men to truly sort their mental health issues out with all the other things they have think about. The bills. The wife and kids. If Aston Villa are looking like a relegation side or not. Research suggests that men who feel they can’t talk about their emotions are less likely to be able to recognize their own problems. So instead of sorting their problems out they go to the pub and mask these issues with a façade of alcohol, putting them off for another week. The pub creates a false state of temporary happiness, warm in the arms of the yellow lit traditional décor, giggling with friends’ over pints. The problem comes when men use the pub as a paracetamol for their real lives, it might temporarily help but in the long term you know it doesn’t really solve much.
So, the solution? There isn’t really one. Mental health issues have always been a problem and always will be, its natural but that’s the thing, they’re natural and NORMAL. So, all we can ask for is continued support and awareness for men’s mental health, and don’t always take your mates prescription of anti-depressants, which includes a diet of Stellas, takeaways and baggies. Maybe seek professional help instead of another pint.