Men and mental health
In England, around one in eight men has a common mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
There are other signs that might give us a better picture of the state of men’s mental health:
Three times as many men as women die by suicide.
Men aged 40-49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK.
Men report lower levels of life satisfaction than women according to the Government’s national wellbeing survey
Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women: only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men
Nearly three-quarters of adults who go missing are men
87% of rough sleepers are men
Men are nearly three times as likely as women to become dependent on alcohol, and three times as likely to report frequent drug use.
Men are more likely to be compulsorily detained (or ‘sectioned’) for treatment than women.
Men are more likely to be victims of violent crime
Why don’t men talk about mental health?
Social 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 men can be damaged by stereotypes and expectations too.
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.
Some research also suggests that men who can’t speak openly about their emotions may be less able to recognise symptoms of mental health problems in themselves, and less likely to reach out for support.
Men may also be more likely to use potentially harmful coping methods such as drugs or alcohol and less likely to talk to family or friends about their mental health. However, there is research to suggest that men will access help when they feel it meets their preferences, and is easily accessed, meaningful, and engaging.