Why men are especially vulnerable to mental ill health
Mind Jersey is very grateful to Connect for enabling us to share some key messages each month during 2017. We have featured a range of brief articles that identify priorities, forthcoming initiatives or activities and provide information and advice. This month we are keen to focus on Men and their mental health.
We are now more aware than ever before, that we all need to look after our mental health. One in four of us, in any given year, will experience a mental health problem. The indiscriminate nature of these problems means that anyone can be affected at any time. But we are becoming more aware of the gender divide whereby – rather than talking about their problems – men are trying to ‘man up and manage’. We live in a society where there is a cultural expectation for men to be strong, capable and in control. The stigma and discrimination around mental health is still all too evident and can leave some men feeling cornered and very isolated if they do find themselves feeling anxious, depressed or if they are experiencing high levels of stress.
It comes as no surprise that research has indicated that men often try to find ways of dealing with their problems independently, rather than reaching out and sharing their concerns and seeking appropriate help and support. Instead of talking about their problems, men tend to ‘bottle up’ their feelings and engage in distractions such as watching TV, sometimes exercising excessively or self-medicating with drugs and/or alcohol. The number of men currently in treatment for drug and alcohol abuse in Britain is three times that of women. This statistic paints a very clear picture: whilst women are generally much more likely to seek help for mental and emotional health issues, men are sometimes self-medicating and are often disconnected, lonely and isolated.
Although attempted suicide rates are three times higher in women more men complete suicide making it the biggest killer of men under the age of 35. This is both a shocking and tragic statistic – but we can change it.
We know that early interventions are crucial and that the workplace can play a vital role in promoting positive mental health. Mind Jersey is proud of our growing involvement with employers. During the past three years we have provided Mental Health Awareness training sessions in a significant number of workplaces which has increased awareness and their capacity to support employees who may be encountering mental health problems. These are easier to treat the earlier they are identified. With that in mind it is critical that anyone – of whatever gender – struggling with their mental health opens up and asks for help as soon as they suspect something is not right. In this way they can receive the support needed before a crisis point is reached.
Mind Jersey is a small and independent local mental health charity with a vision of a society that promotes and protects good mental health for all and treats people with experience of mental illness, fairly, positively and with respect. It provides support and help so that people can take control of their mental health and live full lives.
If you want to obtain more information about Mind Jersey please visit our website: www.mindjersey.org