We now know that the Covid-19 pandemic has not only affected our physical health but our mental health, too. And it’s clear that mental health issues are a lasting legacy of physical illness. So, there’s more acknowledgement of the need for good mental health – especially in men. But is it true that men’s mental health problems are being taken more seriously? Read on to find out more.
Why is it important to take men’s mental health seriously?
I don’t wish to shock you, but this can be answered in one word: suicide.
It’s a grim statistic, but in 2019, 5,691 men took their own lives. That’s three-quarters or 75% of all deaths by suicide, and that percentage hasn’t changed since the 1990s. In fact, suicide is the biggest cause of death for men aged under 35.
Men’s mental health problems are leading to suicide in a way that far exceeds cases among women. And that means we have to take it seriously.
What kind of mental health problems affect men?
Just like physical health problems, mental health problems can affect any of us and at any time. There aren’t any specifically male mental health problems though there are differences in how men and women respond to them.
Men are unlikely to talk about their mental health difficulties, which can worsen the situation. Think of a pressure cooker left on the heat! And 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.
The most common mental health problems affecting men are:
- Work-related conditions like burnout or excessive presenteeism.
- Obsessive/compulsive disorders.
- Eating disorders.
Why are men affected by mental health issues?
Many reasons why men suffer from poor mental health arise from outdated stereotypes of manhood and masculinity. Traditionally, men are supposed to be dependable and strong, but modern men are also expected to be in touch with their emotions. So what do you do if you find that confusing? Does it mean you’re not a ‘real’ man?
Social media is also a malign influence on men’s lives. In a report by MIND, 37% of men said social media harmed their lives. This was true for all age groups, especially those aged 25-44. Of these younger men, 23% said they were worried about their appearance.
And these fears are magnified on social media, where unrealistic images of ‘perfect’ bodies are constantly popping up. If you feel you don’t measure up, your self-esteem will suffer, leading to anxiety and depression.
For middle-aged men, the Samaritans discovered six themes involved in the rise of suicides:
- Male personality traits can interact with deprivation, unemployment, social disconnection and triggering events; relationship breakdown or job loss can increase the risk of suicide.
- Macho behaviour. Men often respond to stress by taking risks, like misusing alcohol and drugs.
- Relationship breakdowns. Marriage breakdown is more likely to lead men to suicide than women.
- Mid-life crisis. Middle-aged men are currently experiencing more mental health problems and unhappiness than younger and older people.
- Inability and unwillingness to talk about emotions. Men are much less likely than women to have a favourable view of counselling or therapy and will only access these when they are at crisis point.
- Socio-economic factors. Unemployed people are 2-3 times more likely to die by suicide than those in work. The suicide rate increases during times of economic recession.
So how do we know that men’s mental health problems are being taken more seriously?
Apart from MIND and the Samaritans, who support everyone, some organisations are dedicated to supporting and promoting men’s mental health. This is very encouraging, and it shows that there is a genuine desire to improve things. These organisations include:
- CALM: the campaign against living miserably.
- Brothers in Arms was set up in Scotland, where there are the most male suicides in the UK.
- The Men’s Sheds Association does what it says on the tin (and it’s sponsored by Ronseal!). Sheds provide community spaces for men to talk while fixing things or making stuff.
- Safeline offers support to men who have suffered rape or sexual abuse.
- The Men’s Mental Health Forum looks at all aspects of men’s health – especially mental health.
And more and more celebrities are ‘coming out’ and talking about their own struggles with periods of poor mental health.
Prince William has been very open about his own difficulties, and he continues to raise awareness through the Royal Foundation. He also supports the FFA’s Heads Up initiative fronted by Gareth Southgate.
Finally, It seems that men would prefer using technology to help them when experiencing a mental health problem. MIND asked men what would make it easier for them to seek help:
- 27% wanted online support and information.
- 15% wanted complete anonymity.
- 12% wanted easy and flexible access to support day or night.
- 11% wanted help away from their GP surgery.
- 6% wanted telephone support.
And this ‘wish list’ can become real because this is what SupportRoom’s Employee Support Platform provides. So, why not read on to learn more about what we can do for you and your organisation?
How can SupportRoom help my company?
At SupportRoom, we offer employee therapy for small to medium businesses. Our platform allows employees to receive therapy on-demand from a dedicated, qualified therapist. Our SME Employee Support platform is designed to give insightful data that allows your employees to track their progress and monitor their o
At SupportRoom, we offer employee therapy for small to medium businesses. Our platform allows employees to receive therapy on-demand from a dedicated, qualified therapist.
Our SME Employee Support platform is designed to give insightful data that allows your employees to track their progress and monitor their own mental and physical health.
Book a free demo here.