Men’s mental health

The last year or so hasn’t been easy on anyone. Rates of depression and anxiety have risen considerably, but it’s thought that men may struggle more with mental health because they may be uncomfortable talking about things like feelings. 

We live in a society where the majority of men are told that it’s weak to cry or demonstrate their feelings. From a young age, they’re told they have to be stereotypically strong and protective, to suffer stoically and never admit weakness. The thing is, it’s killing them. 

Figures suggest that around one in eight men has a common mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder. Yet men are less likely to seek or receive professional help for such issues. 36% of NHS referrals for talking therapy are allocated to men. Many also lack the social support network, whether that’s friends, partners or family members that allow them to admit such problems. It’s the done thing to shrug and say you’re fine, even when you really aren’t. This is why three times as many men as women die by suicide. It’s why three quarters of adults who go missing are men and why they have much higher level levels of alcohol and drug dependency.  

Some studies have suggested that men may be less likely to recognise when they are suffering from a mental health issue. Depression or anxiety are often dismissed as stress. Men are more likely to show some symptoms of depression than women. These include irritability, sudden anger and increased risk-taking and aggression. Men are more likely to use alcohol and drugs to cope with their depression rather than talking about it. They may use escapist behaviour too, such as throwing themselves into their work.

Making simple changes can help you feel better. Arrange to catch up with a friend, or check that they are doing okay with a phone call or Zoom session. Walking has been shown to help beat depression. Try combining an evening walk with mindful practices or transport yourself to another world by listening to an audiobook as you stroll. Or you could try some online fitness classes or sign up for a team sport, get on your bike or head to the gym. 

A change of scene can help. This can be a simple as going away for a weekend or taking a walk in the woods. Give yourself permission to do things you enjoy and set aside some me time, whether that’s a long bath or starting a veg plot. 

Cut down on alcohol and eat more healthily. Living on takeaways and beer may make you feel better temporarily, but it’s not a good way to manage difficult feelings. It’s important to recognise you’re not superhuman. Don’t compare yourself to others, especially on social media. It’s okay to admit you sometimes feel anxious or overwhelmed, or that there are days where you really don’t want to crawl out from under the covers. Asking for help is the first step in recovery. 

If you’re concerned you’re developing a mental health problem, talk to your GP. It can be daunting, but most people find that speaking to their GP and getting help and support can make a big difference to their lives. You can also talk to Mental Health Aberdeen, a local charity which has been providing counselling for over 70 years, or search online for local support groups. 

Mental Health Aberdeen
0330 094 5717
Scottish Association for Mental Health
Brothers In Arms

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