Should there be a change for the better?
Over the last few years, men's mental health has been decreasing at a drastic rate, but people still choose to ignore it? This article will look at: how it is happening; why are men not talking about their feelings? and finally why it is important not to ignore it.
Why are men being ignored in the first place?
Society's expectations and traditional gender roles play a role in why men are less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health problems. We know that gender stereotypes about women – the idea they should behave or look a certain way, for example – can be damaging to them. But it’s important to understand that stereotypes and expectations can also damage men.
Men are often expected to be the breadwinners and to be strong, dominant and in control. While these aren’t inherently bad things, they can make it harder for men to reach out for help and open up.
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 may also be more likely to use alcohol and drugs to cope with their depression rather than talking about it. They may use escapist behaviour too, such as throwing themselves into their work.
According to the Priory Group in a recent report published in 2023:
"77% of men polled have suffered with common mental health symptoms like anxiety, stress or depression, with 1 in 8 men reporting experiencing symptoms for mental health problems"
Why are they not opening up?
There can be many causes for people to not open up about their mental health with an astonishing 40% of men not willing to talk and open up about their mental health situation according to the Priory Group report.
The Priory group asked a cohort of men about their mental health and why they haven't opened up about it and these were the results:
‘I’ve learnt to deal with it’ (40%), ‘I don’t wish to be a burden to anyone’ (36%), ‘I’m too embarrassed’ (29%), ‘There’s negative stigma around this type of thing’ (20%), ‘I don’t want to admit I need support’ (17%), ‘I don’t want to appear weak’ (16%) and finally ‘I have no one to talk to’ (14%).
Men being too embarrassed to speak out about their problems is one of the main causes, and there shouldn't be a negative stigma about speaking out, each and every person is within their human right to no matter if they are male or any other gender.
Why is it important not to ignore it?
I believe that men today shouldn't ignore any signs of a mental health problem. In 2017, nearly 6000 suicides were recorded in Great Britain. Of these, 75% were men. Suicide is the largest cause of death for men under 50 according to the Mental Health Foundation UK. This is a massive figure and it definitely shouldn't be washed under and not dealt with. People should never be ignored no matter what situation they are in.
In many cases, men and women do not differ in the symptoms they will experience when struggling with their mental health. If you're concerned you or someone else might be suffering from mental health issues, consider these common signs and symptoms:
Persistent sense or worry
Overwhleming feelings of sadness
Withdrawal from friends and family
Feeling tired or fatigued
Physical symptoms like shortness of breath or headaches
While many of these symptoms are universal, some signs are more common in men than they are in women. Examples include:
Anger and irritability
If anyone should ever need to talk about any mental health problems they should be able to do so, freely with no judgement.
If you or you believe anyone near you is experiencing a mental health problem, I would urge that you take the time to speak to them.