Men, Mental Health and the Therapy Room

Tuesday March 30, 2021

There are many stereotypes globally that men should not cry.  We only have to look at the macho characters portrayed on the big screen and the typical stereotypes that men need to be tough and that it is a sign of weakness to show emotions or to seek help. All of which interfere with men’s willingness to enter into the counselling room.

Why don’t men talk about mental health?

What does it mean to reach out for help?  To explore anxieties and fears that are present?  We find that once a male therapy client is in the room, he can get in touch with his emotions. He is able to see the impact that his emotions are having on his life but might not feel comfortable in sharing them. He can see how his anger is affecting his partner, or how he doesn’t share emotions with his friends and family.  Common assumptions may be explored.

If male therapy clients have learned to hide their emotions, they most certainly won’t have the skill of understanding their emotions, nor the ability to share their emotions with others.

There are other signs that might give us a better picture of the state of men’s 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.

It is important to identify beliefs linked to being male, potentially exploring past experiences and how this affects other areas like work, performance, general satisfaction in life and also their physical health.

Second, it is important to help men to develop their emotional vocabulary. This can be daunting for some men; however, it is doable with persistence and self-compassion.

What should you do if you are worried about your mental health?

If you’re concerned you’re developing a mental health problem, talk to your GP. It can be daunting, but most people find that speaking to their GP and getting help and support can make a big difference to their lives and it is the first step.

You may be advised to seek counselling and unfortunately, NHS waiting lists are approx. 18 months. At the UK Counselling Network CIC, we offer low-cost, affordable counselling and you are able to access assistance within 2 weeks.  Reach out if you or someone you knows needs support. Tel: 0113 285 2899

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