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The perceptions of men and their mental health

Men's Health Week 2013, aims to tackle the stigma in men’s mental health and promote mental wellbeing and enourage men to seek help.  The Priory, the UK’s leading provider of mental health services, highlights the issues that men have in talking about mental health.

Despite men and women experiencing mental health problems like depressionanxiety or stress in roughly equal numbers, men are much less likely to be diagnosed and treated. It’s a sad consequence that 75% of all suicides are by men*.

Mental health problems such as depression are a global and growing issue. The World Health Organisation cited it as the leading cause of disability worldwide - with one in 20 people reported to experience an episode of depression in the previous year.

Dr Kamper, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital in Altrincham believes that men often go undiagnosed because they self stigmatise, and many are embarrassed to admit to themselves or others that they have a mental health problem. This makes it much harder for them to ask for help either from their GP, or friends and family. Since men often do not display traditional symptoms of depression (sleepless nights, crying, feeling low), they are more likely to ‘act out’ (by taking drugs, drinking or being aggressive), which means their problems can be overlooked or misdiagnosed.

However in recent years, well known male public figures and sports personalities have broken their silence and spoken of their own mental health issue, which is helping to change perception and break the stigma.

Dr Kamper said: “Mental health disorders such as depression can start at a young age, and can often recur over the course of an individual’s lifetime - triggered by any number of lifetime events, including: stress at work, money problems, relationship issues and loss or change of job.  During a period of depression, it is typical that an individual is unable to continue with normal or, in extreme cases, any work responsibilities.

“While it is excellent that reliable treatment exists and that are effective, we as a healthcare industry should not become complacent in our success.  Where possible, prevention of mental health issues should still be the best course of action. This may mean basic physiological support at the onset of early warning signs or preventative clinical or social support if patients are aware of a genetic or social link.”

* Office for National Statistics (2009), Suicides

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