Movember Awareness: Are Mental Health Services Failing Men?

Support men's mental health in November

Grow a Mo, save a Bro. Movember is back! The biggest global men’s health charity is once again encouraging all to get involved in raising awareness and funds for life-saving work for men’s health.

In particular, ‘Movember’ commissioned a report in the UK which clearly identified a significant gap between how men and women deal with mental health and how they access needed treatment. Their statistics are hard to argue with:

  • 1 in 8 men are diagnosed with a common mental health disorder at any one time;

  • The highest suicide rate is in men aged 30-44;

  • 79% of men would not ask for time off work if they had a mental health problem;

  • Less than a third would confide in their partner that they had mental health worries.

  • The charity, Mind’s studies have revealed that less than a quarter of men would visit their GP if they felt down for more than two weeks.

It seems that society has pressurised men with a stereotype of what is ‘manly’; features of masculinity being defined as competitive, brave and dominant (Sjoberg & Via, 2000). While this may be of benefit in institutions such as the military, it is at a considerable cost to the individual mental wellbeing of men in western society in general. Social pressure to conform to its ideal of being the ‘real’ man – who is to be relied on and never reliant – risks men not seeking help when it is needed. Men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women, but studies have shown that men are more likely to avoid seeking help in all forms and are more likely to ‘act out’ than to look at the source of their distress (Cochrane & Rabinowitz, 2000; Connell, 2005).

It seems that the stigma of male mental ill health has been perpetuated following the First World War and the identification of ‘shell shock’, symptoms of which were commonly seen as a sign of a weak disposition and lack of mental fortitude. While a greater understanding of what we now describe as ‘Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)’ has softened this stigma somewhat, society has continued to struggle with its response to emotional reactions to combat and other trauma.

With this backdrop, it is little wonder that men are less willing to seek help, while at the same time being at risk of depression and psychosis (Harland, 2008), of suicide, and addiction. No wonder then that one study concluded, “Now…we need to provide and promote psychological interventions and services that…tackle the stigma associated with male help-seeking, engage men more effectively in treatment and, above all, at critical points in their existence, help them put life before death.” (Roger Kingerlee, et al., 2014)

The need for greater understanding of men’s mental health issues and tailoring of interventions is obvious.  ‘Movember’ has committed to fund £2.5 million investment in men’s mental health initiatives. It is hoped that, with greater GP and health provider awareness and the effort of charities and other organisations, the gap in care for men can be closed.

Check out how easy it is to get your mo going in 30 days…

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