Are you wondering why men’s mental health is such a hot topic at the moment? The UK summer of lockdown has been tough on everybody – there truly is no exception to that. However, new research from Samaritans has shown that lockdown measures have had more of a detrimental effect on men.

That, added to the already shocking statistics surrounding men’s mental health and the suicide rate, combine to make a pretty appalling picture.

The charity surveyed almost 2,000 men aged between 20 and 59 to find out how the pandemic restrictions have affected their mental health and support networks. Of the men questioned 42% felt that the restrictions have had a negative impact on their mental health, with loneliness and/or isolation, anxiety, financial worries and separation from loved ones among their concerns.

Despite some men saying that they find it hard to talk to someone about the way they are feeling when they are struggling, almost half (40%) said that talking to others helped with concerns and worries they had during lockdown, showing the importance of seeking help and getting support when they need it.

This is where the national statistics surrounding men’s mental health come in to play. Quite literally we have a silent crisis on our hands. Men, more so than women, struggle to talk. Especially about mental health and their concerns.

  • Men are a lot less likely to access psychological therapies than women, with only 36% of referrals being men, reflecting the suffering in silence
  • 12.5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders
  • 76% of suicides are committed by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35 in the UK

In line with how women have grown to understand how a patriarchal society has put up barriers and instated unfair gender gaps, men too are seeing that long engrained societal stereotypes are now having a negative effect on how they address mental health problems.

How would you describe a man? Strong? Stoic? In control? The concept of manliness is well overdue an update – like many things – but the very truth of the matter is that the current pressure on men to be strong and seeming able to cope is point blank stopping them from seeking help. Help that could save their lives.

Aside from gender perceptions, another huge factor that contributes to men feeling as though they are unable to talk and open up is the stigma that surrounds mental health in general. The two together make for a dangerous combination.

The question is how do we help? We know that men are less likely to reach out, and more likely to reach for the bottle or other substances instead. When we consider men’s mental health it is so hard to look beyond the suicide rates, but if we want to change these statistics we need to look at what factors affect men’s mental health to begin with, what we can do to help more men reach out and, when they do, ensure the services available to them are professional and appropriate – services that meet their needs.

Alexis, our director, psychotherapist and TEDx Speaker, says:

“Men, and women for that matter, find it hard to access therapy because they’re being strong. It’s usually a result of the fact that they have had to be strong for such a long period of time. Perhaps they feel responsibility, and showing signs of vulnerability, struggle or emotion will undermine who they are and what they stand for.

“Society is beginning to move towards seeing therapy as a way of self-care and self-development and feelings of shame, associated with needing help, are beginning to shift.  What we are also doing through our work with schools is to access younger generations to show them it is ok to talk and to be heard. That they have the space and permission to show emotion.

“We’re trying to instil the message that there isn’t a ‘normal’. If you label something as abnormal how are you ever going to accept it. If we struggle with mental health problems, that is entirely natural. What people, men especially, need to understand is that seeking help is not a sign of weakness. So many of our clients struggle to make that first step, but that one will be the hardest. Once you’ve made that move, each step gets easier.

When it comes to matching a therapist with a client we refuse to fall in-line with the norm and simply pair up clients with the first available therapist. We look at our talented team and decide who is best suited to the individual, who will be able to help them in the most effective way.

You can read and listen to some of our male client’s experiences in our new blog series, ‘Giving a Voice to Men’s Mental Health’. Their words say it all.

We’re Here To Help

If you need help please get in touch with us, or pass our details onto someone you know is struggling. You can email [email protected] or call 01472 241794. We have offices based in Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Hull and Louth. We can offer face to face 1-2-1, couple therapy and provide online sessions for everything we do.

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