Why is Men’s Mental Health Month Important in 2022?

What is Men’s Mental Health Month?

Men’s Mental Health Month takes place in November every year to raise awareness of the crisis in male mental health and suicide in the UK.

Why are men less likely to seek treatment for their mental health?

As a consequence of societal gender norms, men are less likely than women to talk openly or seek help for their mental health issues. There is a considerable amount of discourse in society about the damaging effect that gender norms have on women’s sense of identity, including how they should act, look, work, and feel. Although it is important to recognise the role that men play in shaping women’s perceptions of themselves in relation to others, we also need to acknowledge that gender prejudices and expectations can have a detrimental effect on men as well.

Traditional expectations defining what masculinity is and how men should act and feel contribute to the current mental health disparities that exist today. Across the world, men are generally expected to be the breadwinners and exhibit ‘masculine’ attributes such as strength, authority, control, and dominance. These characteristics may not be intrinsically harmful, but they exclude men from a broad range of feelings and emotions that are fundamental to the human experience. More significantly, these expectations make it more difficult for men to feel comfortable sharing their vulnerabilities and asking for help if they are struggling.

Research indicates that men who find it difficult to express their feelings openly actually struggle to recognise and accept any signs of mental health issues. Getting help means relying on others, admitting there is a problem, and expressing uncomfortable emotions, which are behaviours that defy societal narratives about masculinity.

It is, therefore, no surprise that men are almost half as likely to seek professional help for their mental health issues. In fact, men only constituted a third of referrals to mental health services in the NHS between 2019-20, which is especially concerning considering that men die by suicide at a much higher rate than women.

How many men suffer from mental health conditions?

Around 1 in 8 men in England has a common mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, this is only indicative about mental health problems that are actually reported.

Do men suffer more severe depression than women?

There is no specific type of ‘male depression’ or barometer by which to measure the average severity of men’s mental health. However, some symptoms are far more prevalent in men with depression than in women. These symptoms include:

  • Hostility
  • Aggression
  • Impatience
  • Risky behaviours

Men are also 3 times more likely to use drugs and alcohol to deal with their feelings rather than talk about them. While these behaviours may offer temporary relief, they play a significant role in worsening the symptoms of depression.

How many men die by suicide in the UK?

There is an undeniable male suicide crisis across the world. It is estimated that one man dies by suicide every minute of every day.

In the UK, men account for 75% of all suicides.

In England alone, the male suicide rate was 15.8 per 100,000, compared to the female suicide rate of 5.5 per 100,000 in 2021. Men aged between 50 to 54 were found to have the highest suicide rates amongst all men at 22.5 per 100,000. The North East of England had the highest suicide rate in 2021 at 14.1 per 100,000.

What are some mental health resources for men?

Men’s Mental Health Month is important because it normalises men’s mental health discussions and encourages them to seek help when they need it.

Samaritans is a registered charity dedicated to providing emotional support to anyone experiencing emotional distress or suicidal thoughts.

Campaign Against Living Miserably is a free and confidential helpline that offers support to anyone who is in crisis.

Mind is a mental health charity that offer advice and support to people experiencing mental health issues.

MANUP? is a mental health charity that breaks the stigma around men’s mental health.

Spoke is an app that promotes mindfulness techniques through music geared towards men.

Image by Joshua Earle.