The stigma around mental health for men mainly comes down to social conditioning. Many men feel a stigma attached to reporting mental health issues, and there can be a wide range of reasons why men feel that they cannot talk about their feelings or visit a doctor for help.
Many men report not wanting to waste the doctor’s time. They struggle with admitting they need help, they are embarrassed or ashamed about their feelings. Others feel that they have got it “all under control” and do not want to admit that they need support.
Men rarely talk about their feelings in the same way as women. Many men do not have an outlet to chat with friends away from general topics and banter, and many feel that if they did admit to feeling anxious or depressed to their friends, they would be ridiculed. Real men don’t cry is a common expression that, sadly, many men still believe.
Although some men may talk about their mental health with a partner, in most cases, any mental health difficulties are hidden away and brushed under the carpet by the people closest to them. For men, this is a difficult conversation; sadly, many women can fail to pick up on underlying clues.
In addition, many men feel they have to shoulder the burden if there are financial difficulties and stress. Keeping a mental health issue secret leads to feelings becoming overwhelming, and if this is not managed with support, this isolation often leads to suicide.
According to mental health statistics reported by the Priory clinic, 40% of men will not talk to anyone about mental health, leaving them feeling vulnerable and isolated.
How we can make simple changes to improve men’s mental health?
It is normal to sometimes struggle with mental health, so having a conversation that explains that everyone suffers from this occasionally and there is no shame or blame attached may help open up the conversation. Explain how bottling up feelings and emotions can only lead to a worsening of the problem.
Be understanding and non-judgemental. Take time to listen and focus on what the man is telling you. Many men struggle with expressing themselves emotionally, and it can be frustrating, but if you can get a man to actually speak about their feelings, it is a step in the right direction.
Getting out in nature can help. Exercise and the great outdoors can boost mood and improve self-esteem simply by making the person feel better. Walking is also a good place to chat and open up about feelings.
A change of scene and routine can improve mood. A time spent away from the usual routine can help clear the head and give a fresh perspective. If you are an employer, advising some time off may help.
Think of some novel ideas that are fun and enjoyable. A trip out to a new place, a visit to a cinema or a music or sports event, such as a football match or gig by a favourite band, can lift the mood and make life more bearable.
Noting a potential mental health issue and taking steps early is a good way to avert a potential problem. Sadly many men will not open up and say anything is wrong until they are at a crisis point. Even then, many will be in denial.
Men’s mental health charities and support
There are mental health charities that offer a range of different types of support, much of it specifically aimed at men. This can be in the form of male support groups, one-to-one counselling, phone support and more.
Mind is a mental health charity that provides fantastic support and information for everyone. The charity has numerous local offices across the UK and offers counselling, advice and support for men’s mental health issues. This is a great resource for information and advice about mental health. It will also help you navigate the mental health system to receive the right professional treatment to aid recovery.
CALM – the Campaign Against Living Miserably, leads the movement against suicide, the biggest killer of men in the UK, with on average 18 suicides daily. This charity offers support via phone line, web chat and website and is available 365 days a year. The helpline is operational from 5 pm to midnight every day.
Brothers In Arms is a men’s mental health charity, operational only in Scotland. It is aimed at providing support to men in crisis. It is aimed at men between 16 and 45 but is open to men of any age. It is designed to reach men of all ages and help men find support when they need it without fear of failure. According to the website, Brothers in Arms was inspired by CALM and transferred to Scotland, the place with the highest rate of male suicide in the UK.
The Men’s Sheds Association offers a novel approach to improving male mental health issues. The simple premise is that every man needs a shed; these are fun community spaces for men to converse, communicate and create. Sponsored by household names Ronseal and Triton Power tools, this charity aims to reduce male isolation and is a small but growing movement.
Safeline is a mental health charity that helps men who have suffered from rape and sexual abuse and are now offering suffering in silence with mental health issues. A staggering 5 million men in the UK are victims of this, and this charity offers a range of specialist support via email, text and phone, as well as counselling services, group activities and therapies.
The Men’s Health Forum offers health advice for all men, including mental health issues. The aim is to improve the statistic that one in five men dies before the age of 65, so this site looks at all aspects of male health and how to improve it.
The Samaritans were founded in 1953 and are aimed at providing emotional support via their helpline for people who are desperate or contemplating suicide.