Men and mental health: a damaging stigma
We consider the stigma around mental health in men and the importance of shifting perspectives. We also share important advice on how and when to seek help
Around 75% of UK deaths from suicide are men, and suicide is the most common cause of death for men under 35. These statistics demonstrate the pressing need for mental health support for men everywhere. We take a closer look at the stigma around mental health in men, which often prevents men from accessing mental health support from families, friends, and medical professionals.
Why don't men talk about mental health?
One in four people experience a mental health problem each year. Although mental health problems are extremely common, stigma is still attached to them, making them difficult to talk about. Societal genders roles can dictate that when men express emotion, they are not "real men". This stigma can cause men to suppress their emotions in order to present as "manly" and "strong". Men are less likely than women to seek help from friends or medical professionals for mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).
It's important to open up
As mentioned above, social pressures can mean that men find it harder to openly discuss feelings of vulnerability, or ask for help. But the evidence is clear that bottling up these feelings can make things worse. If you're suffering with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue, you are not alone. There are many options to help you cope, and the sooner you seek help the better.
How to get help
Going to see your GP is often the best way to do this, as they will be able to assess your condition and organise support. They will work with you to decide on treatment options, which may involve therapy, lifestyle changes, or medication. There are various types of therapy available, from counselling to hypnotherapy, group therapy to cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). If you feel your situation is too urgent to wait for a GP appointment, you may be experiencing a mental health crisis.
What is a mental health crisis?
A mental health crisis is when you experience one or more of the following: suicidal feelings, self-harming behaviour, anxiety or panic attacks, paranoia, and feeling out of control in a way that means you may endanger yourself or others. If you experience any of these things, it is important to contact a support service to help you resolve the situation or support you through it. If you think you need immediate medical attention, you should visit the A&E department of your nearest hospital, or call an ambulance. If you are in urgent need of support, but you don't think you are a danger to yourself or others, you can arrange an emergency GP appointment. If you just want to talk to someone, open up about how you are feeling, and receive some support and advice, you can call a telephone support service such as the Samaritans, CALM, or SANEline.
There are many ways to support and alleviate mental health problems. Just taking that first step can help immediately by reducing the pressure and feelings of isolation. And remember, opening up to friends and family members can be just as important. Emotional support from the people closest to you can make all the difference.
Alcohol and mental health
Some people suffering from mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, can turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. However, alcohol can actually increase stress and anxiety, because it is a depressant. Drinking alcohol can increase the frequency and severity of depressive episodes - as well as reducing the efficacy of antidepressants. What's more, alcohol can also interrupt your normal sleep patterns, which in turn can also leave you feeling tired and negatively impact your mood.
Nutrition and mental health
While it's commonly accepted that diet and nutrition have a big impact on physical health, what you eat can also impact your mental health. Those who suffer with physical health issues may experience mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, as a result. Eating well, staying hydrated and avoiding stimulants, such as caffeine and sugar, can also help balance your emotional state.
Food with essential fatty acids, such as fish, poultry, nuts, avocados, and dairy, are important for brain function. Trans fats or foods with partially hydrogenated oils, such as shop-bought cakes and biscuits, can negatively impact your mood. Protein, on the other hand, contains amino acids, which helps control your blood sugar levels and makes up the chemicals that your brain needs to regulate feelings and thoughts. Eating lean proteins, such as lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese nuts, seeds and legumes, can help keep this in good balance.
The importance of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
This form of therapy has been proven to be highly effective at treating mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Cognitive behavioural therapy works by breaking down your problems into thoughts, feelings or actions. Your psychologist will work with you to identify negative thought patterns and behaviours, and how to changes these. You will be asked to implement these changes into your day-to-day life.
"CBT is a wonderful evidence-based therapy that has revolutionised psychological treatment. It is a therapy in which the clinician explains to the patient why they have their symptoms and then trains the patient in specific skills to get better. It is as much a ‘doing’ therapy as a ‘talking’ therapy." Mr Rufus Harrington, consultant cognitive behavioural psychotherapist.
Getting help with Circle Health Group
We have a network of dedicated healthcare professionals, including consultant psychiatrists, who can help you manage and often overcome your mental health problems.
If you would like to learn more about this, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly.