Mental health involves our emotional, psychological and social well-being, which affects how we act, feel and think. Our mental health can help us determine how we each handle stress differently, relate to other people and make choices surrounding our lives. Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your behaviour, mood and thinking could be affected. There are multiple factors that can contribute to mental health problems, including; family history of mental health problems, life experiences (for example, trauma or abuse), biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry, social disadvantages, unemployment, childhood abuse or trauma and domestic violence. There are so many different types of mental health problems, these include; anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, eating disorders, schizophrenia and disruptive behaviour disorders. Approximately 1 in 4 people in the United Kingdom will experience a mental health problem each year. On top of this, in England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem, such as anxiety and depression, in any given week. Therefore, we can see that mental health is such a pressing issue the world is facing and it affects so many people!
Men and mental Health
In England, around one in eight men suffer from a common mental health problem. Three times as many men as women die by suicide. In the UK men aged from 40-49 have the highest suicide rates. According to the Government's national well-being survey, men report lower levels of life satisfaction compared to women. Taking all of this into consideration, men are much less likely to access psychological therapies than women, with only 36% of NHS referrals for therapy are for men. 75% of all 6000 suicides reported in the United Kingdom in 2017 were men. Suicide is the largest cause of death for men under 50 years of age. 40% of men have never spoken to anyone about their mental health, 29% of those said they won't speak to anyone about their mental health as they are 'too embarrassed'. The main causes of mental health issues among men's lives are work (32%), finances (31%) and their health (23%). We can see that mental health affects so many males, so why is there still ignorance towards men's mental health? Why do men keep quiet? Why can't they speak freely about their mental health?
Why don't men talk about their mental health?
Mental health affects so many men in the world, so how comes men do not like to talk about their mental health? Men have tendency to keep their feelings and emotions to themselves and suffer in silence. A lot of men stay quiet about their mental health issues due to the stigma associated with it. Some men think that they will be alienated or shunned by their friends or family for having a mental health problem, which results in them staying silent and denying themselves the support and treatment available. The stigma surrounding masculinity makes it difficult for men to open up about how they are truly feeling. As well as this, 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.
Men are often expected to be 'tough,' 'strong' and 'dominant.' This results in men suffering in silent as these expectations and traditions make it difficult for men to openly speak about their emotions. 28% of men said they would feel too embarrassed to seek help. Bottling the emotions up can lead to harmful coping mechanisms such as drugs and alcohol. Preconceptions of 'manliness' equate to men acting tough and not showing emotions have damaging consequences for men and wider society. Toxic masculinity view men's mental health problems as a weakness, as toxic masculinity values physical strength and power. This explains why some cultures and communities can be so dismissive of men and mental health as it is not part of their value system and view of the world. Overall, men are less knowledgable about mental health. The majority of the time men believe they can deal with their problems theirselves and they do not want to burden anyone else with their issues. With approximately 14 men committing suicide each day in the United Kingdom in 2018, something needs to change!
How can we make It easier for men to talk about their mental health?
With so many men suffering in silence about their mental health issues, much more needs to be done for them to feel encouraged and comfortable with opening up and taking help. Men's mental health is just as important as everyone else's so lets start treating it that way! We need to speak about men's mental health more often and make it known how common it is, so lots more men feel confident speaking up and seeking help for their mental health problems. We all need to have compassion for the challenges and stigmas that men are presented with in their everyday lives, by doing so we can help improve mental health support for men. There are so many support systems for mental health problems out there, for example the NHS, Mind, Young Minds, Better Help and so many more! Let's try to get men the help they deserve and put a stop to the stereotypes and stigmas surrounding men's mental health.