Mental health issues in men are generally under diagnosed. As a nation, British men (and men around the world) are less likely than women to express and seek help for mental distress symptoms. Not only that, but there is clinician bias shown towards men with mental health problems, with doctors being more likely to subconsciously overlook mental health complaints in men than they do in women. 1
Men often leave it much later than women before seeking help and as a result, their symptoms are more severe when they finally seek help for depression or mental health problems.
It is a disturbing, but unavoidable fact that in the UK, three-quarters of all suicides are men, and that statistic has been constant since the 1990s. 2 There is also evidence that men find it difficult to get the right support to help them to recover and feel better. 3
Strategies like routinely assessing mental health, work-life balance and self-care is often directed at women, but should be just as routinely assessed and encouraged in men. Men may be more likely to present with poor impulse control, risk taking, substance abuse and antisocial behavior as signs of mental distress and this should be taken into account when they are being screened by mental health professionals, but not everyone makes that connection. 4
Another challenge that men face is that of loneliness. Loneliness in men is shown to be connected to a lower sense of purpose, lower social networks and being unpartnered. 5
The good news is that community support for men is slowly starting to improve, with the availability of men’s community groups, support structures and social networks for mental health, such as The Good Men Project and Andy’s man club alongside excellent podcasts like Safe Harbour. Watch our webinar discussing men’s mental health with Safe Harbour’s wonderful life coach duo Phil Askew and Jamie Robins.
Recently, we have seen far more men in our clinic seeking support for depression, parental burnout, anxiety, loneliness and difficulty connecting. This was something that was rare only a few years ago, but the last 18 months has considerably exacerbated mental health issues in both male and female patients.
The Natural Doctors has many tools and resources for mental health, with groups and communities to connect and find support from like-minded people, whatever your gender or sexual orientation and webinars from experienced experts. Whilst it is important to seek medical advice if you are experiencing mental health symptoms, there are many things you can do yourself to improve your mental health. These range from addressing stress through practices like meditation and yoga, to looking at the role that diet, nutrition and probiotics have in supporting the gut-brain axis, consider doing our brain function & mental health toolkit for more information. Finding natural ways to improve male hormone balance, particularly in older men can also be beneficial, as there is a link between lower testosterone levels and poor mental health, particularly depression. 6
- Smith DT, Mouzon DM, Elliott M. Reviewing the Assumptions About Men’s Mental Health: An Exploration of the Gender Binary. Am J Mens Health. 2018 Jan;12(1):78-89. doi: 10.1177/1557988316630953. Epub 2016 Feb 10. PMID: 26864440; PMCID: PMC5734543.
- Suicides in the UK: 2018 registrations, ONS
- Affleck W, Carmichael V, Whitley R. Men’s Mental Health: Social Determinants and Implications for Services. Can J Psychiatry. 2018 Sep;63(9):581-589. doi: 10.1177/0706743718762388. Epub 2018 Apr 19. PMID: 29673270; PMCID: PMC6109884.
- Neville S, Adams J, Montayre J, Larmer P, Garrett N, Stephens C, Alpass F. Loneliness in Men 60 Years and Over: The Association With Purpose in Life. Am J Mens Health. 2018 Jul;12(4):730-739. doi: 10.1177/1557988318758807. Epub 2018 Feb 20. PMID: 29458295; PMCID: PMC6131432.
- Oliffe JL, Rossnagel E, Seidler ZE, Kealy D, Ogrodniczuk JS, Rice SM. Men’s Depression and Suicide. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2019 Sep 14;21(10):103. doi: 10.1007/s11920-019-1088-y. PMID: 31522267.
- Yeap BB. Hormonal changes and their impact on cognition and mental health of ageing men. Maturitas. 2014 Oct;79(2):227-35. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.05.015. Epub 2014 Jun 2. PMID: 24953176.