Some people find it hard to admit when they feel down – they prefer to keep their feelings to themselves. This can be through embarrassment, stoicism, or just plain confusion. While figures show men are equally as likely to suffer from mental health problems as women, men are far less likely to go to a GP for help or even admit to friends and family how they feel.
Tragically the consequences of saying nothing can be fatal. For every four suicides that occur in the UK, three are by men. That equates to 75% of all suicides. Paradoxically, a significant 72% of people treated for depression are female, which suggests men simply aren’t getting the help they need for emotional distress and mental health problems.
Martin Tod, chief executive of the Men’s Health Forum, says: “Suicide is the unspoken killer taking the lives of far too many men. Many men suffer alone or seek solace in drink. We have to find ways to make it easier for men to talk about their health before it’s too late.”
Life issues including bereavement, relationship breakdown and money problems can all contribute to stress and anxiety. Stressful events can trigger mental health problems and, in turn, underlying mental health problems make it even more difficult to cope with stressful events. To break this vicious cycle, it is important to get help.
Tod believes men prefer to keep quiet about their problems because admitting to them would make them feel weak. Even the language of distress (feeling ‘sad’, feeling ‘down’, can’t cope etc.) goes against the undeniably male mentality of powering through.
Without inviting a debate about gender and sexuality, on the whole women tend to find it easier to deal with their emotions because they are socialised to talk more freely about how they feel from a young age.
Tod thinks if all men spoke about how they felt with confidence, we wouldn’t be looking at such ‘horrific’ suicide statistics. He says there is really no need to worry about what the GP thinks, or what the counsellor thinks. There are so many options for getting help – including online and telephone counselling.
Sometimes it may feel like there really is no escape from the feelings inside. It is not abnormal to feel stuck, like there is nowhere for your feelings to go – but there is.
You can find out more about depression and how to get help by visiting our Depression page. If you think you need help, please visit our Suicidal Thoughts page. Admitting you want help is a way out of the turmoil you feel.
Find out more about Men’s Health Week.