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Men keeping quiet over mental health problems, study finds


By Emily Newsome

MEN ARE  less likely than women to seek help with mental health issues, a new survey has found.

The research by YouGov, was commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation and published this week. It found men are also less likely to discuss the issues with friends and family.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity SANE, said: “These findings are worrying as the consequences of untreated mental illness can be severe.

“Suicide is now the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. Yet there remains deep stigma around talking about our darker feelings, particularly amongst men.

“The more we can spread the message that opening up is not a sign of emotional weakness, the more lives we can save.”

Ms Wallace said SANE launched its Black Dog Campaign, with sculptures in schools, shopping centres and businesses, which aimed to encourage people to talk more openly about their mental health.

Charles Benson, 24, of West Yorkshire, said he found it difficult to open up to his friends about his mental health issues.

He said: “I’ve got anxiety, and because most of my mates don’t, they don’t believe you. If they want to go into a pub with loads of people, they won’t take you seriously because you don’t want to go in.”

According to the survey, 33 per cent of women who were experiencing a mental health problem reached out to someone close to them within a month, compared to only 25 per cent of men.

Jo Loughran, interim director of Time to Change, a campaign run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness to change public attitudes towards mental health, said: “Our research shows that certain groups are lagging behind when it comes to attitudes towards those of us with mental health problems, and this is certainly true for men.

“We often hear of men falling foul of the idea that ‘real men don’t cry’ – but actually this means they are missing out on vital support from those around them.

“Most recently, our poll of young men aged 16-18 found that half (49%) would not feel comfortable talking to their dads about their mental health.

“When asked why, more than a third said it was because their dad doesn’t talk about his feelings.

“If we can break the negative cycle of men feeling unable to speak out, we can create a new generation of men who no longer feel isolated, ashamed and unable to reach out for the help that they, and everyone around them, needs to successfully manage their mental health.”

New data released by the NSPCC, on October 28, showed a 35% increase in cases of anxiety in the past year, with children as young as eight calling ChildLine due to worries about global events, such as the US elections, the EU referendum and the current refugee crisis.

The helpline’s calls are seven times more likely to come from girls than boys – showing male youngsters are not comfortable seeking help for mental health issues.

Mark Rowland, director at the Mental Health Foundation said: “It takes real courage to be open and honest about mental health, but when suicide is the leading cause of death for young men, we all have a responsibility to push for cultural change.”

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