Despite men’s mental health becoming a popular topic in recent years, most men still aren’t getting the help that they need. There are complex reasons for this, from interpersonal factors such as shame, to external factors like stigma and stereotypes.
This November, in honour of Men’s Health Awareness Month and International Men’s Day, we explored some of the ongoing factors affecting men’s mental health and how we can raise awareness to encourage open conversations.
We spoke to Dan Proverbs, founder of Brother in Arms Scotland – a charity that believes in prevention through self-management, the earlier the better, by providing 21st century support for the 21st century man. This includes working with Thrive Mental Wellbeing to provide accessible, digital mental health support for men and those around them.
What is different about the way men experience mental health?
Men internalise mental health by keeping our outside appearance looking as if we are indestructible, while on the inside we are crumbling, rather like wearing an imaginary suit of armour.
The cultural conditioning that men face often means that they don’t feel as if they can show emotions or talk about mental health. This results in low help-seeking behaviour, conditions getting more severe and increased suicide rates. Three times as many men as women die by suicide and men aged 40-49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK¹.
Why are men less likely to talk about their mental health?
Social stigma, self-stigma, not appearing vulnerable because it can be perceived as a weakness, keeping to society’s image – powerful on the outside, stoic on the inside. We need to stop telling them ‘it’s ok to be not ok’ and that ‘it’s ok to talk’ without the facility to do just that in a way that represents men ‘one size fits all’ does not work.
Do you have any advice for men who are reluctant to get support?
Start now, be prepared and don’t leave it until it’s too late. Train your brain the way you train your body. With today’s technology, there has never been a better time for men to get a better mind.
Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women: only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men². Thrive Mental Wellbeing’s technology aims to catch men long before they reach crisis point. We can prevent future mental health conditions and suicides by enabling men to improve their mental health from early on and have more open conversations with one another.
You don’t have to be an expert. By talking to the men in your life about mental health and asking them about themselves, we can all play a role in reducing stigma and supporting those around us. You can also use Brothers in Arms and Thrive Mental Wellbeing to learn about mental health and how to support others.
Thrive Mental Wellbeing are the experts on mental health for organisations. To find out more about affordable, engaging digital support for your organisation, get in touch at https://thrive.uk/com/contact.