Tackling the crisis in men’s mental health
Men are also less likely to ask for help when they are struggling with poor mental health. They only account for only 36% of referrals to NHS psychological therapies.5
One study in men with depression found that only 8.5% were receiving mental health support. However, two-thirds had thoughts about suicide or self harm in the previous two weeks.6
Traditional views of masculinity often prevent men from seeking support. The same gender stereotypes are also associated with unhealthy coping mechanisms. This could include self-medicating with alcohol and drugs.7
Young men are particularly vulnerable. They are falling behind girls in the classroom. They’re also more likely to be NEETS:
At university there are multiple groups supporting and advocating for female students. In contrast, very few focus on men’s issues.10
By the time they are entering the workplace many may already be struggling.
Gender stereotypes can associate masculinity with strength. Stereotypes also discourage displays of emotion, denoting them as ‘feminine’ or ‘weak’. While there is less stigma around poor mental health, it still exists. And, particularly in male dominated industries.
High suicide rate
This has tragic consequences. The suicide rate for men working in the construction industry, driving and the ‘trades’ is far higher than the male average.11
The Office of National Statistics figures show that suicides in the construction industry are rising at an alarming rate. It’s worth noting that nearly 9 in 10 of these workers are male. Rates are now four times higher than the average in other sectors.12
Charities such as Movember and Andy’s Men’s Clubs are set to change that. They provide important spaces for men to meet and talk about their mental health.
Anonymous and confidential
Construction and civil engineering firm, BAM UK & Ireland, is showing how this can be achieved. They began by creating welcoming spaces - known as wellbeing rooms. They’re a place for safe conversations. And it amplified the support and resources the company was already providing.13
It didn’t take much to create the first wellbeing room. A portable cabin equipped with sofas, a table and a hot drinks station made it a cosy and informal sanctuary.
Records were kept anonymous and confidential. They also confirmed the facility was addressing a real need.
In the first three months, 70 of the 300 employees on site had used the wellbeing room. That’s almost a quarter of the workforce. They popped in for a chat and a total of 210 conversations took place.
A safe space
Resources and guides
1 Office for National Statistics, 2021.
2 National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2020.
3 Mind (PDF, 2.9MB), 2020.
4 High Burden of Mental Health Problems, Substance Use, Violence, and Related Psychosocial Factors in Transgender, Non-Binary, and Gender Diverse Youth and Young Adults, 2019. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-019-01533-9
5 Mental Health Foundation, 2021. 6 Men’s Help-Seeking for Depression: Attitudinal and Structural Barriers in Symptomatic Men, 2020. DOI: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2150132720921686
7 Improving Mental Health Service Utilization Among Men: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of Behavior Change Techniques Within Interventions Targeting Help-Seeking, 2019. DOI: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1557988319857009
8 Women and Equalities Committee (PDF, 0.2MB), 2019.
9 American Psychological Association (PDF, 0.4MB), 2018.
10 The Association of Commonwealth Universities, 2020.
11 British Safety Council, 2023.
12 Lighthouse, 2022.
13 REBA, 2021.