Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women: only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men
Why don’t men talk about their emotional or mental health?
Society’s expectations and traditional gender roles can play a role in why men are less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health problems. It’s important to understand that stereotypes and expectations can damage men. Men are often expected to be the breadwinners and to be strong, dominant and in control. While these aren’t inherently bad things, they can make it harder for men to reach out for help and open up.
Some research also suggests that men who can’t speak openly about their emotions may be less able to recognise symptoms of mental health problems in themselves and less likely to reach out for support.
Evidence shows that Black men are far more likely than others to be diagnosed with severe mental health problems and are also far more likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
There are multiple reasons for this including stigma, cultural barriers, and systemic discrimination, all of which are more directly experienced by Black boys and young Black men as they get older. The aim is to focus on building personal resilience, enabling people to take care of their mental health and wellbeing.
Anxiety is more than everyday worry or stress. Anxiety can be a normal, healthy emotional response. But it becomes a problem if:
- Anxiety is there when it doesn’t need to be (for example, there’s no threat to your safety or wellbeing)
- It’s greater than it should be for the situation you’re in (for example, giving a presentation at work)
- Your anxiety is so high you find it difficult to speak or function.
Anxiety includes generalised anxiety: where someone is worried about a lot of different things, or no one thing in particular; social anxiety; panic attacks and phobias. Anxiety disorders are specific conditions that can only be diagnosed by a qualified professional.
What are the signs of anxiety?
You may feel powerless, out of control, as if you are about to die or go mad. Sometimes, if the feelings of fear overwhelm you, you may experience a panic attack – an exaggeration of the body’s normal response to fear, stress or excitement. It is the rapid build-up of overwhelming sensations, such as a pounding heartbeat, feeling faint, sweating, nausea, chest pains, breathing discomfort, feelings of losing control, shaky limbs and legs turning to jelly.
Starting conversations with men who are struggling may seem daunting. But getting them to open up can be easier with practice.
Men’s health charity, Movember, suggesting using ALEC skills:
Ask: Ask how they are and what’s been happening lately?
Listen: By actively listening and validating what a man is feeling, it can help him feel more comfortable to open up.
Encourage action: Encourage them to take action towards feeling better.
Check in: Check in with them regularly after your chat.