Supporting Men with Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues can affect anyone irrespective of gender, age, socioeconomic status or cultural background. However, certain mental health conditions can present differently in men than women.

In Scotland males have some form of common mental health problem such as depression, anxiety or stress related conditions. However, they only make up one third of referrals received by psychological services.

Men are less likely to seek help and psychological intervention, so despite there being more women diagnosed with mental health problems, men are more likely to commit suicide, mainly before the age of 50. Being less willing to discuss emotional needs and mental health difficulties can delay access to appropriate treatment and recovery, leading to serious debilitating consequences.

Spotting the signs and symptoms:

Men and women tend to present with different signs and symptoms of mental illness, with men more commonly presenting with one or more of the following:

Anger and irritability

Aggression

Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless or on edge

Increased risk taking behaviours

Increased use of alcohol and drugs

Sleep difficulties

Suicidal thoughts, though may not discuss with others

Physical health symptoms such as pain/aches

Obsessive thinking

Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life

Why are mental health symptoms different in men?

Societal norms and expectation – concept of ‘masculinity’ and expectation to adhere to the ‘norms’

Attitudes – men are generally more competitive and want to feel strong and in control. They are less likely to share their vulnerability

Coping mechanism – instead of sharing emotions and feelings, they may use drugs, alcohol or other risk taking behaviours

Different hormonal changes

Stress and pressure – expectation of being the breadwinner creating financial, employment and family pressures

Recognising the signs of mental illness in one of your patients, as early as possible, is the first step towards them accessing support and help. Early diagnosis, intervention and treatment can improve outcomes, recovery and overall quality of life.

Considering the differences across conditions

Substance misuse

Men are more likely to be involved in alcohol and substance misuse and are nearly 3 times more likely to be dependent on alcohol

67% of British people who consume alcohol at ‘hazardous’ levels are male, along with 80% of those dependent on alcohol

Almost 3 quarters of people dependent on cannabis and 69% of those dependent on other illegal drugs are male

More men who use drugs are admitted into hospital and die, compared to women who use drugs

Men suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental health difficulties are more likely to have problems with alcohol and substance misuse. Men may use alcohol or substances as a means of avoiding emotional pain and distress and can be an effective avoidance strategy for the short term, with detrimental long-term mental health consequences

It is a well-known fact that those who misuse alcohol and illicit substances can show increased anger and aggressive behaviour

Depression

Fewer men than women are diagnosed with depression as they either do not seek help or attempt less to minimise the distress

Men are less likely to share their feelings and emotional needs than women

Men suffering from depression may hide their emotions and feelings and appear angry, irritable and aggressive whereas women may appear sad and emotional

Men may present to their doctor with more physical health symptoms such as pains, aches and physiological symptoms of anxiety rather than low mood

Suicide

Suicide is one of the leading killers in men under 50 years of age

Men are three times more likely to take their own life compared to women and 4 out of 5 suicides are by men.

Although more women attempt suicide, more men are successful due to the more dangerous methods they use.

If you ever feel this way, please join us in our Safe, secure, confidential and non judgemental space.

Everyone is welcome, join us from 6 – 8pm once a fortnight.

Our next meeting takes place on 15 October

Saltcoats Library

Springvale Place

Saltcoats

Ayrshire , KA21 5LS

We are all looking forward to seeing you all. #LetsTalk #MentalHealthMatters

Steven Connelly

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