Men's Mental Health
Social Expectations, in which way men have traditionally been expected to behave may play a role in mental health. Social expectations about how men “should” behave and what masculinity suggest that men are to be the breadwinners of the family and that they display masculine traits like strength, dominance, and control.
Being all these things are not necessarily negative things. However, there needs to be a balance, and some research suggests that a reliance on these traditional principles as what it means to be “a man” may negatively impact men’s mental health.
Research suggests that behaving to these expectations, of self-reliance, and power over others is associated with increased distress and poorer mental health. Research also suggests that men who are unable to speak about emotions may be less able to identify symptoms of mental health problems in themselves, and less likely to reach out for support.
Men Need to Seek Help
In England, men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women and men may also be less likely to disclose their mental health issues to family members or friends, and more likely to use potentially harmful coping methods such as drugs or alcohol in response to distress. However, there is research to suggest that men will seek and access help when they feel that the help being offered meets their preferences, and is easily accessed, meaningful, and engaging.
Men make up the vast majority of the prison population, and with high rates of mental health problems and increased rates of self-harm observed in prisons, men in the prison system are a group in need of increasing support for their mental health.
Men and Suicide
In 2017, 5,821 suicides were recorded in Great Britain, of this 75 % were males. Suicide represents the largest cause of death for men under 50.
Higher rates of suicide are also found in minority communities including gay men, war veterans, men from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, and those with low incomes. One group that may be particularly vulnerable to death by suicide are middle-aged men from lower social and economic backgrounds. This may be due to the interaction of a range of complex factors that include social and economic hardship, unemployment and underemployment, relationship breakdown, and lack of social support, all of which are common risk factors for suicide.
Further insights about risk factors for this group can be found on the Samaritan’s website.
If you need support or want to learn more about men’s mental health, the below organisations are sources of further information and advice.