Following International Men’s Day we commissioned a survey of 1,000 men to uncover men’s attitudes towards their own mental health.
- 77% of men polled have suffered with anxiety/stress/depression
- The biggest pressures in men’s life are work (32%), finance (31%) and health (23%)
- Majority of men claim their mental health is having a negative impact on their work performance, parenting ability and relationships in particular
- 40% of men polled said it would take thoughts of suicide or self-harm to compel them to seek professional help
- - What are the biggest causes of pressure in their life
- - What areas of their life does their mental health impact upon
- - Who they talk to about their mental health
- - Why would they not talk about their mental health
- - Would they talk to a professional about their mental health
Men’s preferred confidant
The results showed that 66% would share their feelings with their partner above anyone else.
Dr Tim Rank, Consultant Psychiatrist at The Priory Hospital Brighton and Hove said:
I have seen a number of male patients recently who have senior, responsible jobs and have suffered from burnout which has led to severe depression. They have not wanted to admit this to themselves, let alone anyone else. In the end they have had to take time off work as there body basically says "enough is enough" and they become so exhausted they can barely get out of bed. It is often their wives who insist that they get help and they pretty much march them to my door!”
The reasons men don’t talk about their mental health:
- ‘I’ve learnt to deal with it’ (40%)
- ‘I don’t wish to be a burden to anyone’ (36%)
- ‘I’m too embarrassed’ (29%)
- ‘There’s negative stigma around this type of thing’ (20%)
- ‘I don’t want to admit I need support’ (17%)
- ‘I don’t want to appear weak’ (16%)
- ‘I have no one to talk to’ (14%)
Dr Rank said: “I’ve noticed a generational change; on the whole younger men do seem more able to talk about psychological problems and seek help but as the poll confirms, men still have many barriers to seeking help with mental health such as perceived stigma, embarrassment and not wanting to appear weak”.
Almost one quarter (22%) of respondents said they would not feel comfortable even speaking to a GP or any other professional; the main reason being that they worry it will waste their GP’s time.
It is interesting that the survey identified that men worry about wasting their GP’s time with these sorts of problems. It does need to be made clear that depression and anxiety are perfectly legitimate reasons to seek medical care, after all GPs spend about 30% of their time dealing with psychological issues”.
Work related stress and financial concerns
Respondents were asked about the biggest causes of pressure in their life. Work related pressure came top of the list at 32%. This was followed closely by financial pressures at 31% and health concerns at 23%.
A more seasonal pressure felt predominantly by men aged 35-44 years of age, is the pending cost of Christmas – also a more popular concern felt by those living in London.
The importance of talking about mental health
Generally speaking, men make up about 40% of the patients being treated for depression and anxiety at Priory.
The survey highlighted that for 40% of men it would take thoughts of suicide or self-harm to compel them to seek professional help.
Dr Rank adds: “Traditionally men have been reluctant to accept these problems let alone seek help; I have treated a number of men over the years whose first contact with our services has been after a suicide attempt”
Encouragingly, 60% of men polled have shared their feelings of anxiety with someone at some point. Based on the 77% who admit to suffering mental health issues however, there remain a number of men living in the UK who feel unable to speak to a friend or professional about potentially serious symptoms.
“My experience is that men in this sort of situation find it useful to be told that they are ill, just as if they had diabetes or a heart problem. I tell them that becoming ill is certainly not a weakness and this does seem to help” says Priory’s Dr Rank.
For further information about signs, symptoms and treatment for depression, stress, anxiety or any mental health condition please visit the relevant pages of the Priory Group website, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the confidential and free-phone number on 0800 084 6116.