Men and Mental Health: Breaking the Silence
Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety can affect anyone regardless of gender, but when it comes to men and mental health, there are some particularly concerning statistics. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with a problem, but three times as many men as women die by suicide in the UK, for example.
According to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), men are more likely to report lower levels of life satisfaction, and are less likely to access support services such as talking therapies. When they do seek treatment for mental health problems, they are often already at a crisis point.
Men are also more likely than women to smoke, use illegal drugs, and drink to dangerous levels. Part of the reason for this is because men feel less able than women to admit to anyone that they are struggling. They often seek out destructive coping strategies, rather than reach out for psychological support.
All these problems were well established before the pandemic. However, over the last two years, many of us have seen far less of family and friends than we would like, through a combination of restrictions, illness, or work-related pressures. Hobbies and sporting activities that many men relied on for social contact have been paused for long stretches.
Society’s expectation that men be strong and in control can mean that they are inhibited from talking openly about problems such as depression, stress, and anxiety. Even men with plenty of friends can feel constrained by cultural conditioning to keep their real feelings to themselves.
However, things are slowly beginning to change, with several high-profile men sharing their experiences in recent years.
For example, Huw Edwards, the BBC news reader, and cricketer Ben Stokes have spoken out about their struggles with depression. Often, finding the courage to speak openly about problems is the first step to treatment and recovery. Everyone is different, and recovering from a mental health problem is not as straightforward as mending a broken leg.
People with depression are often advised to exercise, improve their diet, sleep better, socialise more, and avoid alcohol and smoking. However, finding the motivation to do any of these things can be very difficult when you are anxious or suffering from a persistent low mood.
That is why some people find that learning mindfulness techniques, in combination with hypnotherapy, can be the first step that really makes a difference. These equip the individual with a set of skills that they can draw on at difficult or stressful moments throughout their life, and help them see situations and problems in a different way.
Mindfulness can bring a sense of control and inner peace that was previously missing, by emphasising the present moment, and working to let go of negative emotions and thoughts. The techniques can take some practice to master, and many people find that a few sessions with a professional practitioner are needed to set them on their journey.
If you would like to work with a mindful therapist based in London, please get in touch today.