"Man up?" Tackling men's mental health
Some people ask the question, what is different about men’s mental health compared to women’s mental health? And it is a valid question, the response is that men suffer from different types of mental health issues and at different prevalence rates, therefore, there is a need to address the mental health of males in a slightly different way to that of females.
One of the most striking differences between men and woman and their mental health is the number of individuals who take their own life. In the UK, there are on average 16 suicides a day. 12 of these are male victims. This means a man takes their own life roughly every 2 hours. Why is this rate so much higher for males than females? There are several contributing factors, including the misrepresentation and diagnosis of males and that men don’t access therapy as often as women do.
It is reported that boys are 5 x more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD then girls. This is a surprising prevalence rate considering that the behaviours that contribute to a diagnosis can be expressed by both genders. The question is then raised, is it that males are being diagnosed at a lower threshold? Or that the masculine behaviours that boys exhibit naturally is being confused with symptoms?
The fact that there are more boys being diagnosed creates a sense in the wider community that boys are troublesome and that they contribute to a lot of society’s problems. This is seen in the media through the reporting of intimate partner violence, where the perpetrator of violence is very often reported as being the male. In reality, the victimisation of males and females for this type of violence is roughly the same (27.4% - women, 26.8% - men). This misreporting adds to the idea that men are the troublesome and violent ones and can contribute to them feeling as though they cannot access therapies because they are not the ones ‘needing help’.
Additionally, the notion that men should be strong and shouldn’t talk about their feelings is one that is reflected in the lack of instances of men seeking help. It has been discussed that men often choose not to access talking therapy because it is not seen as something that would be helpful to them (Holloway et al., 2018).
The idea that men don’t like to talk about their feelings is a long standing one, and it can be part of the issue of what is getting in the way of them seeking the help they need. Other therapies therefore have been developed to help men, one of which surprisingly is the use of yoga. Yoga is commonly seen as a female activity; however, it can be used as a tool to help men to undo the negative messages that they receive just by being male and can lead to a greater awareness about their own body and mind (Dr Sunil Lad).
There is no doubt that males can benefit equally from therapies, the issue is that they are often more reluctant to access this help. It is therefore important to design therapies that can be more easily tailored to men, because mental health issues don’t just affect women, men need help too.
At Flourish Psychology, Dr Langman is able to draw on multiple models of evidence-based psychological therapies (including cognitive behaviour therapy and solution-focused therapy) to provide a bespoke service to men who decide to reach out and access support.
Please contact us today if you wish to make that first step.
Article reference links:
Links to support groups:
The Lions Barber Collective
Mens Sheds Association