November the 19th is International Men’s Day
12.5% males in the UK suffer from one of the common mental ill-health conditions (Men’s Health Forum, 2016). However, the presentation of mental health problems in males is often under-diagnosed, with many men not seeking help in the first place. Traditional treatments such as talking therapies are also not always favoured by men. It is therefore true to say that the field of male mental health needs more investigation and understanding.
The types of problems are fairly gender specific. Some male mental health facts include:
- Over three-quarters of those who take their own lives are male and suicide is the highest cause of death in males under the age of 35 (ONS, 2016)
- Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women) (Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2017)
- Men are three times more likely than women to report frequent drug use (4.2% and 1.4% respectively). Whilst more than two thirds of drug-related deaths occur in men. (Public Health England, 2017)
- Men have measurably lower access to the social support of friends, relatives and the community
- Boys present with all the same types of difficulties as men. Anxiety and depression are the most commonly occurring, together with behavioural disorders and substance abuse conditions. Whilst a quarter of the eating disorder population are boys, this group can often pose a considerable challenge in terms of identification and recovery. The incidence of psychosis is higher in males
We need to do whatever we can to encourage boys and men to address their mental health and wellbeing. Having a warm, open relationship with parents is the first building block. Finding a way to connect so that some sort of discussion can take place is another. Having an activity to focus on is often helpful as is a mentoring model of having an older sibling or a peer to support. Traditional models of mental health care with their heavy and often implicit reliance on help-seeking and face-to-face encounters involving emotional disclosure are more likely to present barriers to boys and men and its important for mental health professionals to draw upon scientific evidence to provide more effective treatments that engage males to live happier lives.
Health and Social Care Information Centre,2017 Statistics on Alcohol, England, 2016, HSCIC and ONS
Office of National Statistics, Britain, 2016 Suicides in Great Britain
Mens Health Forum Website, menshealthforum.org.uk
Public Health England (2017) Adult Substance Misuse Statistics From the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System, April 2016 to March 2017
Dr Nihara Krause
Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Founder and CEO stem4