men’s mental health
In a world that often emphasises strength and resilience, the topic of men’s mental health can sometimes be overshadowed. The reality is that men, like anyone else, face mental health challenges, ranging from societal expectations to the pressures of personal and professional life.
Societal norms often dictate how men should express emotions, creating a fear of judgment and making them hesitant to show vulnerability for fear of being seen as ‘weak.’ This can be especially difficult for fathers, as societal expectations may magnify the belief that they should be unwavering pillars of support for their families.
So, let’s talk about men’s mental health. Staying silent is rarely a solution. It’s time to speak openly, end the stigma and build a community where everyone’s mental health is a priority.
Common myths about men’s mental health
men should tough it out and handle problems alone
Expecting men to be stoic and not express vulnerability can contribute to the suppression of emotions. It’s essential for men to feel comfortable expressing a range of emotions and seeking support when needed.
expressing emotions is a sign of weakness in men
Acknowledging and expressing emotions is a fundamental aspect of being human. Suppressing your emotions has a negative impact on your mental wellbeing. Real strength involves expressing and understanding one’s emotions.
men don’t experience mental health issues as often as women
Men and women have similar rates of mental health issues. However, men may be less likely to report or seek help due to stigma and traditional expectations around masculinity.
What mental health conditions are common in men?
Understanding your mental health is crucial. Recognising the specific challenges you may face is a big step toward good mental wellbeing. In this section, we shed light on common mental health conditions prevalent in men, highlighting the importance of early diagnosis and support.
As a man, you’re more likely to turn to substances to cope with the stress or numb the pain coming from emotional distress, trauma or symptoms of mental health condition. In Scotland alone, men are three times as likely as women to experience a drug misuse death.
Due to the stigma around men’s mental health and societal expectations, men have a higher rate of completed suicides than women. Some of the signs of suicidal thoughts in men include social withdrawal, expressing feelings of hopelessness and changes in behaviour like sudden calmness or increased risk-taking. In the UK, men aged between 45-49 have the highest suicide rates compared to any other age group.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Men, especially those in professions with a higher likelihood of exposure to trauma (e.g., military, emergency services), may experience PTSD. If you are a man, you might experience PTSD symptoms differently from women. You may be more likely to express distress through externalising behaviours, such as anger, aggression, or risky activities. Men with PTSD might be more prone to physical symptoms like headaches or digestive issues as a way of expressing psychological distress.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Whilst often associated with childhood, ADHD can persist into adulthood. As a man, you are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than a woman. Men with ADHD may struggle with focus, impulsivity, restlessness and hyperactivity, potentially affecting their everyday functioning at work and at home environment.
What mental health conditions are underdiagnosed in men?
Although statistics show that women are more likely to be diagnosed, men are less likely to get treated. Whilst men exhibit more externalising behaviours (i.e., behaviours directed outwards), such as anger and hyperactivity and physical symptoms like headaches and chronic pain, women tend to have greater rates of internalising behaviours (i.e., behaviours directed inwards), such as fear and withdrawal. But just because, as a man, you show your emotions differently doesn’t mean you don’t experience the same challenges.
This is why fewer men are diagnosed with depression and anxiety, which are considered internalising conditions. However, men are just as vulnerable to these disorders, and it is important to get treated as soon as possible.
How can I support my mental health?
Life can get tough and developing your own coping strategies can make a big difference. Here are three practical ways to support your mental health:
- Mindfulness techniques offer a simple yet powerful way to ground yourself in the present moment. Try a simple exercise called body scan meditation. Close your eyes and bring awareness to each part of your body, one by one, focusing on what you feel. This practice can help release tension and promote relaxation.
- Journaling is a great way to express emotions and gain insights into what’s going on in your mind. Grab a notebook, write down your thoughts and reflect on what’s happening in your life.
- Physical activity boosts mood, reduces stress and clears your mind. When feeling overwhelmed, take short breaks for physical activities. A quick walk or a few stretches can refresh your mind and body. Spend time outdoors. Whether it’s a walk in the park, a hike, or simply sitting in a natural setting, connecting with nature has positive effects on your mental health.
Connect with others
Share your feelings with friends or family. Positive social interactions are more than just niceties; they are essential for a healthy mind by providing you with support and a sense of belonging.
Take time for activities you love. Hobbies and interests add a layer of joy and fulfilment to your life and keep your brain engaged. Explore creative outlets such as writing, painting, or playing a musical instrument. Creative expression can be a powerful means of processing emotions. There are many other ways to prioritise self-care, including good sleep, healthy eating and setting boundaries.
Seek support when needed
Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional if you’re struggling. Joining a support group for men dealing with similar challenges can create a sense of community and understanding. Many support groups are available both in-person and online. Contact our Advice and Support Service to direct you to the services available in your region.
Consider seeing a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, counsellor, or therapist. They are trained to provide guidance and support for various mental health concerns.
Check if your workplace offers an Employee Assistance Program. EAPs often provide confidential counselling and support services for employees.
For immediate support, reach out to mental health hotlines or crisis intervention services listed under support.
What can I do to support men and their mental health?
Creating a supportive environment for the men in our lives involves more than just awareness—it requires action. In this section, we offer steps you can take to contribute to the mental health and wellbeing of men. To learn more, read our resource on how to support others with their mental health.
Encourage open conversations
Create a safe space for men to express their feelings and thoughts. Encourage open dialogue about mental health without judgment.
Promote healthy masculinity by challenging stereotypes that discourage emotional expression. Emphasise that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Regularly check in on the wellbeing of the men in your life. Simple questions (e.g., how are you doing?) can make a significant difference.
Learn about common mental health challenges that affect men (like what you’re doing now!). Being informed enables you to provide more effective support, even if it’s just being more empathetic.
Our Advice and Support Service is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, where advisers can signpost you to local support that most fits your needs, including our Change Mental Health services. We offer initial advice on money worries and help to deal with emergencies.
Contact 0808 8010 515, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the enquiry form on the Advice and Support Service page.
For immediate support, reach out to:
Breathing Space (0800 83 85 87) is a website and phone service for anyone experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety.
NHS 24 by dialling 111 if you feel you need to speak with a medical professional but cannot wait for your GP.