Messages that work for men
The statistics are shocking:4
- Men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women.
- Men aged 40 to 49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK.
- One in eight men has a mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.
- Men are far less likely to access therapy - only 36% of NHS referrals for talking therapies are made for men.
In 2019, the suicide rate in men was the highest recorded since 2000,5 and while the pandemic has not led to any increase in these deaths,6 the picture is still uncertain as there is evidence of rising mental distress, particularly among younger people.7
And the pandemic has undoubtedly been traumatic, although trauma is a more subtle concept than we often realise. David Trickey a consultant psychologist and Co-Director of the UK Trauma Council explains that stress can turn into trauma when there is a disconnect in "meaning-making" and "the way you see yourself, the way you see the world, and the way you see other people" is overturned, by a stressful event — such as the pandemic. This disruption in our ability to make sense of events can spiral into trauma.8
For men, this sense of powerlessness associated with the pandemic might present additional challenges around gender-based perceptions and the need to be 'strong' and 'in control'.
These gender stereotypes also deter men from seeking help. There is still a misconception that poor mental health is 'incompatible' with traditional perceptions of masculinity, and that conditions such as depression, which impact emotional wellbeing, are intrinsically feminine.9