Copyright © 2020 Community Living Well

Men’s Mental Health

man holding head dealing mental health issues

While many of the same difficulties are experienced by both men and women, there is a difference in the way they address them. Here we look at the importance of men’s mental health and how to support someone who may need it…

Women tend to be more open in discussing their feelings, whereas men have a tendency to keep to themselves and suffer in silence. Quite often they turn to distraction techniques such as spending more time working, drinking more than usual or visiting their ‘man cave’ more often.

A report published by Public First reveals that 28% of men have experienced symptoms of a mental health issue that they believed may require treatment during the last 12 months, but have decided not to seek medical help. Another research conducted by Time to Change revealed that three-quarters of the men surveyed won’t open up to their friends about their mental health struggles and concerns for fear of being a burden. Of those that take their lives in the UK, 75% of them are men.

So why do men choose to suffer in silence?

One of the main reasons is societal gender norms; men should be “tough” and “fearless” and they aren’t really men if they show any sign of weakness. This is called “toxic masculinity”. Some men may also find it difficult to verbalise or even recognise their problems.

Left undetected and untreated, it can lead men to suffer from immense hopelessness, withdrawal and a shutdown of normal activity. It’s important to recognise the signs and encourage each other to speak about how we’re feeling – there’s no shame in feeling vulnerable, lost or sad; everyone experiences these emotions.

How do I support someone who may need it?

  • Ask them twice. Some men are unwilling to open up the first time you ask them how they are; but the simple act of asking again shows a genuine willingness to listen and talk.
  • Read between the lines. 35% of men have said that if they wanted to talk to a friend about their mental health, they would ask how their friend is doing first and hope they’d ask them back.
  • Know when to end the banter. We all like a bit of banter from time to time, but it’s important to know when to stop when someone isn’t in the mood. If you notice a friend is acting differently, ask them how they’re doing. Remember, ‘grow up’ and ‘man up’ are not effective phrases – 42% of men have said these are conversation blockers.
  • If he invites you out one-on-one, he may want to chat. 63% of men have said that they would be most comfortable talking about their mental health with someone they trust. Try to just listen and create some space for your friend to share what’s on their mind.
  • Let them know they are supported. No need to make it awkward – just let them know you’re there for them. You don’t have to give advice, you just need to be the good friend you’ve always been.

Growing connections through authentic listening and sharing

Peer Support run a men’s group once a month. It’s a safe haven for you to meet other men and hear their stories.

Hearing other men’s stories that resonates with yours can help decrease feelings of loneliness as you get together to talk in an authentic, accepting and non-judgmental way.

To attend the group, you will need to refer to the Peer Support service. Please see below for details on how to refer.

If you would like to find out more about the Men’s Group, please contact 020 3317 4200 or email [email protected].

If you are experiencing any of the issues mentioned…

To refer yourself to the Peer Support service, please complete this online form or call 020 3317 4200.

This story ‘In the spotlight: Men’s Mental Health’ was originally published in the Winter 2020 Community Living Well magazine. It has been edited for website purposes. Subscribe today to receive mental health and wellbeing tips straight to your inbox, four times a year!

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Posted on: 1st October 2020

SMART St Mary Abbots Rehabilitation and Training