As many as one in four adults and one in 10 children suffer from mental health problems in England, and many of these are men.
In fact, around one in five men (19.5%) in the UK have been professionally diagnosed with a mental health problem, and three quarters of registered suicide deaths each year are men.
We’re in the middle of a silent male mental health epidemic, so what can we do about it? Here’s what you need to know and where to get help if you’re struggling.
UK suicide rates
More than 6,000 people across the UK and Republic of Ireland take their own lives every year, according to Samaritans.
Meanwhile, one in five have suicidal thoughts and one in 15 attempt suicide, according to Mind. While women are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and make attempts, men are three times more likely to take their own life (especially those in their 40s and 50s).
In 2021, there were 5,583 suicides registered in England and Wales, with 4,129 being among men.
While these may seem like bleak statistics, suicides are preventable.
Men and mental health
The hurdle to overcome is more men (and everyone) feeling like they can open up.
“Men are less likely to admit when they feel vulnerable compared to women, whether to themselves, family, friends, or a doctor,” Nick Gibbens, spokesperson for men’s mental health awareness and suicide prevention charity, Lions Barber Collective, previously told Yahoo Life UK. “They also can be more reticent than women to see a GP.”
It’s not that men don’t have the same issues as women, Gibbens explained, but they’re less likely to actually know they have whatever stresses or mental health conditions that are putting them at greater risk of dying by suicide.
“Men tend to believe that opening up about their feelings is a sign of weakness and it’s not considered to be ‘manly’,” he added. “This often starts in childhood as we tend to tell boys that ‘boys don’t cry’. We condition boys from a young age to not express emotion, because to express emotion is ‘weak’.
“Of course the exact opposite is true and it shows great coverage and strength to admit that you have a problem and to stand up and deal with it.”
What to do if you’re struggling with your mental health
The first step is opening up to someone about what you are going through, or feeling.
“While it can be really hard at first, a big part of being proactive about your mental health is seeking help and reaching out,” Earim Chaudry, medical director at Men’s wellness platform Manual told Yahoo Life UK.
“Whether that’s going to your GP or looking for a counsellor, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to managing your mental health, but communicating how you’re feeling is imperative.”
While you still might need to seek support to help achieve this, Chaudry also explained how a healthy lifestyle can do wonders for your mind. “Going outside for a jog, getting a good night’s sleep and a healthy diet can play a large role in feeling good again,” he said.
“Putting in a little time to connect with others is also a great part of looking after your mental health,” he added. “Setting aside some time to chat to a friend every week, volunteering and activities with your family are all ways you can really feel like you’re establishing connections with other people.”
Ward would like to see men being given time to talk in an environment they feel comfortable in, where they are not judged and listened too. “Whether this is in the form of counselling or even in the form of meet-ups with individuals who may be going through a similar thought process,” she said.
“Men need to know it is okay to talk about their mental health, it doesn’t change how people see and perceive them but if they are struggling they should not be struggling alone.”
Where to get help
If you find it difficult to talk to someone you know, you can:
- call a GP – ask for an emergency appointment
- call 111 out of hours – they will help you find the support and help you need
- contact your mental health crisis team – if you have one
If you would like to contact a specialist service that’s waiting to be a listening ear, these include:
- Samaritans – call 116 123, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit some branches in person, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, or call the Welsh Language Line on 0808 164 0123, 7pm-11pm every day
- SANEline – call 0300 304 7000, 4pm-10pm every day
- National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK – call on 0800 689 5652, 6pm-midnight every day
- Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – call on 0800 58 58 58, 5pm-midnight every day, or try the CALM webchat service
- Shout – text SHOUT to 85258, any time
- The Mix – if you under 25 call 0808 808 4994, 4pm-11pm Monday-Saturday
Visit Mind’s website to find even more mental health crisis helplines.
If you have seriously harmed yourself or you feel you may be about to, call 999 for an ambulance or go straight to A&E, or ask someone else to do it for you.Mental Health News