Men and mental health

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According to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), as of November 2020, In England, around one in eight men has a common mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). These figures aren’t comprehensive as many cases go unreported or undiagnosed.

Other statistics from MHF shine a light on male mental health:

  • Three times as many men as women die by suicide.
  • Men aged 40-49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK.
  • Men report lower levels of life satisfaction than women according to the Government’s national wellbeing survey.
  • Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women: only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men.
  • Nearly three-quarters of adults who go missing are men.
  • 87% of rough sleepers are men.
  • Men are nearly three times as likely as women to become dependent on alcohol, and three times as likely to report frequent drug use.
  • Men are more likely to be compulsorily detained or sectioned for treatment than women.
  • Men are more likely to be victims of violent crime (1.5 more likely than women).
  • Men make up the vast majority of the prison population.​ There are high rates of mental health problems and increasing rates of self-harm in prisons.

In all societies men are expected to conform to societal gender roles which makes it harder for them to open up about their mental health as they are expected to be in ‘control’ and ‘strong’. They are expected to be the breadwinner and dominant. So opening up about mental health is much more difficult for them than women.

There is an attitude in different societies that illnesses like depression are a ‘weakness’ and that the unwell person needs to ‘man up’ and ‘pull their socks up’ and get on with it.

In 2017, about 6000 suicides were recorded in the UK. Of these, 75% were men. Suicide is the largest cause of death for men under 50. 

In the Muslim community to which I belong, this attitude is prevalent that men should be strong and that mental illness is a sign of weakness to be hidden due to shame. However even physically and mentally strong people can suffer with mental health challenges such as Tyson Fury –two times world heavyweight boxing champion- who lives with depression.

We need to change this culture where men are under pressure to adhere to gender roles and provide them with safe platforms where they can share their mental health experiences and where they can learn about the nature of different mental health challenges.

Another reason is that men are much more guarded than women about their problems whether they are mental health problems or physical ones. This is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed particularly due to the pandemic which has had an adverse effect on everyone’s mental health – male and female, adults and childrens.

For more statistics visit: Men and mental health | Mental Health Foundation

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2 COMMENTS

  1. This is a great post Muhammad and should be widely shared with men everywhere. I have only seen a one men’s sharing groups in my life where a local association encouraged men to come together and just talk and share. I think more of this is needed, but it takes a good facilitator to make them comfortable enough to open up.

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