Men's mental health: 40% of men won’t talk to anyone about their mental health

Key statistics related to men's mental health and the biggest challenges facing men and their mental health.

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Mental health statistics show that over a third of men (35%) think they've had a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their life. To get a better understanding of how men think and interact with their mental health, Priory commissioned a survey of 1,000 men in the UK.

Key findings:

  • 77% of men polled have suffered with symptoms of common mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress or depression
  • 40% of men have never spoken to anyone about their mental health
  • 29% of those say they are "too embarrassed" to speak about it, while 20% say there is a "negative stigma" on the issue
  • The biggest cause of mental health issues in men’s lives are work (32%), their finances (31%) and their health (23%)
  • 40% of men polled said it would take thoughts of suicide or self-harm to compel them to get professional help

In the survey, we asked men:

  • What are the biggest causes of pressure in your life?
  • What areas of your life does your mental health impact upon?
  • Who do you talk to about your mental health?
  • Why would you not talk about your mental health?
  • Would you talk to a professional about your mental health?

Who men speak to about their mental health

The majority of men (60%) polled have shared their feelings about mental health with someone at some point. This leaves as many as 4 in 10 (40%) men in the UK who won't discuss their mental health with close friends, family, or a medical professional.

Alarmingly, the survey highlighted that for 40% of men, it would take thoughts of suicide or self-harm to compel them to get professional help.

Note: if you know someone who's in need of immediate help, consider these crisis support options.

When men do choose to speak up, the results showed that 66% would share their feelings with their partner above anyone else.

Other key statistics on men’s mental health:

  • 1 in 8 men report experiencing symptoms of mental health problems, compared to 1 in 5 women [source]
  • 35.2% of men think they have had a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their life [source]
  • A fifth of men (19.5%) have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, confirmed by professionals [source]
  • Three-quarters of registered suicide deaths in the UK in 2020 were men [source]
  • 191,000 men a year report stress, depression or anxiety caused or made worse by work [source]

Why men don't talk about their mental health

For the men who said they don't talk to anyone about their mental health, their underlying reasons were:

  • '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%)

Even when related to medical professionals like their GP, many men don't feel like they can raise the issue of mental health. Almost one quarter (22%) of respondents said they would not feel comfortable speaking to their GP or any other professional about their mental health. The main reason given was that they worry it would be a waste of their GP’s time. Given that suicides are so high amongst men (77% of all suicides are completed by men), it serves to highlight the damage that can be caused when men feel like they can't reach out for support.

The results show that work still needs to be done to lift the stigma that surrounds mental health. Dr Natasha Bijlani, Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Roehampton, puts it down to the outdated idea of what it means to be a man:

“Traditionally, men have been less likely to seek support for mental health issues. This is probably for a number of reasons, including stigma and the traditional ‘strong male’ stereotype still prevalent in our society – the idea that expressing emotion is a sign of weakness."

The biggest issues affecting men's mental health

77% of men polled said they experienced some level of symptoms for common mental health problems such as anxiety, stress or depression.

But what underlying factors are driving those symptoms? Respondents were asked about the biggest causes of pressure in their life - pressures that might negatively impact their mental health.

The top three issues were:

  • Work-related pressure - 32%
  • Financial pressures at - 31%
  • Health concerns - 23%

The seasonal pressure of Christmas was also mentioned as a factor, especially among men aged 35 to 44. The cost of the festive season means Christmas and mental health don't always match up as harmoniously as we believe - especially for people with young children or bigger families.

Spotting the signs of mental health issues in men

In many cases, men and women don't differ in the symptoms they experience when struggling with their mental health. If you're concerned that you or someone else might be suffering from mental health issues, consider these common signs and symptoms:

  • Persistent sense or worry
  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling tired or fatigued
  • Physical symptoms like shortness of breath or headaches

While many of these symptoms are universal, some signs are more common in men than they are in women. Examples include:

  • Substance abuse
  • Anger and irritability
  • Working obsessively
  • Sleep problems
  • Reckless behaviour

Read more on men's mental health

Getting help for your mental health

If you're struggling with symptoms of mental health issues, know that there are things you can do that can help you get back on track.

Try some coping strategies

Making small adjustments to your lifestyle can have a huge impact on how you feel day-to-day. Experiment with some of these ideas to make improvements to your mood and slowly feel a whole lot better:

  • Try some relaxation techniquesvisualisation, breathing exercises and meditation are things you can do to feel calmer and more relaxed - great for if you're struggling with high levels of anxiety
  • Get out and be active: exercise is one of the great mood boosters, as our brain releases positive endorphins when we move. Something as simple as a brisk walk can be enough to get started
  • Cut down on alcohol: drinking remains a temptation when you're feeling stressed or upset, but its depressive qualities can make you feel worse in the long run. If you do drink, try to cut down on your alcohol consumption and you'll soon see how much better you feel
  • Stay social: humans are social  creatures. Interacting with our friends and family can help to relieve feelings of loneliness. Sometimes it seems hard, but try to remain socially engaged with people close to you

Speak to someone you trust

You might think you're alone in your struggles against mental health, but actually, it's likely that you've got a whole support network of people around you who can see something is wrong. If you feel up to it, speak up about how you've been feeling. A sympathetic ear is sometimes all we need to feel a whole lot better. They might even be able to offer practical solutions to help you work out what's next.

Reach out to your GP

If you've had persistent symptoms of a mental health problem for weeks or even months, it's time to reach out for professional support. Your GP is a great place to start. They're able to diagnose a condition if they find one, and can offer expert advice on potential treatment options. Remember, a GP's passion is to help people feel better - don't feel like you're burdening them by speaking up about how you've been feeling.

Seek professional treatment

Many effective treatments for mental health issues exist today, allowing people to make a full and lasting recovery. Examples include:

  • Residential inpatient care: round-the-clock support and treatment on a residential basis in a purpose-built environment. Inpatient care is great for recovering away from the stresses of normal life
  • Therapy: many therapeutic methods are proven to help people overcome common mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. These treatments look at the underlying causes of the problems you're having and help you develop ways of coping with and overcoming symptoms. Therapy can be done on either a 1:1 basis, as part of a group, or digitally via online therapy

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