Mental health is a complex subject which can affect anyone and is a completely different experience for each individual. This guide focuses on mental health in men, strategies to cope and support networks which can be accessed for those requiring support.
Statistics around mental health:
- In 2021 74% of suicides were male (ONS 2021 NREPORT)
- Men aged 40-49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK. (MHF)
- Only 36% of psychological therapy referrals into the NHS are for men
- 25% of individuals in the UK with an eating disorder are male (www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk)
- In 2020 1 in 8 men experienced a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression (NHS Digital)
Why don’t men talk about it?
According to the mental health foundation, societal expectations and traditional gender stereotypes could be a reason why men find it difficult to open up about their mental health problems. Men are often expected to be the head of the family, showing strength and being in control. This can often make it more difficult for men to open up about mental health problems and means they are less likely to seek help.
For these reasons men may be more likely to turn to more harmful coping methods such as alcohol or drugs and are less likely to confide in friends or family about what their struggles are. They may also turn to their work more as a means of escapism rather than face their reality.
A survey designed by the priory group suggested the following reasons from men as to why they don’t reach out for help with regards to their mental health.
Use ALEC to help navigate conversations around mental health (uk.movember.com/mens-health/give-support and R U OK)
How is he feeling? Don’t be afraid to ask more than once
Give your full attention without judgement. Asking questions lets him know you are listening
Help him focus on simple things that might improve how he feels
Catch up soon
Tips on Staying Well
- Eat healthily – there is much evidence which suggests that what we eat can have a huge impact on our mood and emotions therefore eating a balanced, healthy diet will go some way to staving off mood swings which could then become more of an issue. Limit processed foods and go for more natural foods such as fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and fibre rich foods.
- Staying active – Exercise is known to be an excellent way of destressing and lifting our mood through an increase in the release of such hormones as dopamine and serotonin which can help us to feel mentally healthy. The NHS recommends at least 150 mins of moderate aerobic exercise every week alongside strength building exercises twice or more a week.
- Sleep – Sleep is our superpower!!! Whilst we sleep our bodies consolidate our memories, cell recovery and regeneration occurs and we process information all whilst we are sleeping. If poor sleep persists, this is likely to affect our mood and over time this can be detrimental to our wellbeing.
Break those unhealthy habits!
Smoking is a key cause of lung and heart conditions such as emphysema, chronic pulmonary heart disease (COPD) and is linked to many types of cancer. Cutting down or quitting smoking all together will greatly increase your health almost immediately.
Alcohol should be consumed in moderation. Government guidelines recommend no more than 14 units of alcohol on a weekly basis and binge drinking should be avoided.
If you have any health concerns, you should contact your GP for further support.