Posted in Gender, Mental Health

How Mental Health Services Fail Men

Stark figures from The Independent once again on the state of mental health and the disparity of statistics between genders. Most startlingly, and this is something that I looked at before in a rather unhelpful article from Science Daily, has come to a shocking headline once more:

Men are half as likely to be diagnosed with with depression but three times more likely to commit suicide.

But there is a major disparity between those suicide statistics and diagnosis:

Today the NHS will tell you roughly 3-4 per cent of men have depression as against 7-8 per cent of women. But it’s acknowledged that men are far less likely to seek medical help for their condition. In all cases, women out-use the health service compared with men, from puberty to age 75

timeinc.com

How can this be? How can lower diagnosis rates lead to higher rates of suicide? is it because men are less likely to seek help? Or is there a failure to recognise symptoms in men? It is apparently a well-known fact that depression in men is more likely to manifest itself as anger rather than as any other form of emotional outburst (tears, self-harm, self-chastisement etc)?

As a very broad generalisation, men show their depressions differently from women. In America, it is already accepted that drug and alcohol abuse by men represents clinical evidence of depression. Men – tellingly – are twice as likely as women to suffer from alcoholism

Which also means that men are far more likely to be stuck with a negative label for his short fuse and / or heavy drinking rather than society trying to understand what the root cause is and dealing with it effectively, and recognising that this might be an effect of his problems and not the cause of it.

It is an enormous and shocking disparity and clearly, something needs to be done about it – I would go so far to say that NHS mental health services are failing men – all of that on top of being an underfunded service having its budget slashed.

I said before in the previous article that there are a number of reasons for this failure, not least of all society’s expectations of how men are supposed to act – something that comes from all walks of life, from men and from women, from across the generations. Strong and silent, stoic, emotionless on the outside – it is not and should never have been acceptable (and certainly not attractive) for a man to be this way when inside he might be screaming, dying, breaking down into uncontrollable sobs and wanting for the pain to end. But no, society needs “real men” whatever the fuck they are.

There is much that we can do to help ourselves: recognising that we are depressed is nearly always half the battle. You are not thinking rationally when you are depressed and you need somebody else to recognise it for you. You also need to be aware of what the signs of depression are otherwise, how are you ever going to know you have a problem? We need greater awareness of mental health in general, but for men this is a more critical issue that needs to be dealt with…

And that is not happening…

Let’s kick this into touch.

I’m running for mental health again this year

Resources

NIMH: Men and Depression
Royal College of Psychiatry: Depression & Men
Helpguide.org: Depression in Men: Why it’s hard to recognise and what helps
Clark’s University Men’s Well-Being Research Group
CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)

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Author:

I go by the name of Frank Speaking. My blog "In the Mind of Men" (former name Chin Up, Chest High) started out as a chronicle of my mental health recovery. Now it is a forum where I discuss issues related to male mental health.

2 thoughts on “How Mental Health Services Fail Men

  1. Like you mentioned, men are supposed to magically be able to handle their feelings and keep the negative ones to themselves. So they aren’t encouraged to get help and may be judged for doing so. I did a report on suicide statistics in high school, and another reason why more men commit suicide is because they use more aggressive means to off themselves. More women attempt suicide than men, but more do it with pills or cutting which doesn’t always succeed, while men use guns or hang themselves, so they succeed more.

    1. I remember reading somewhere that women are more likely to attempt suicide. It makes me wonder whether women are more likely to do it as a cry for help but men are more likely to do it because they want to die.

      What makes me think that is that those methods used by women are slow ways to die, but hanging, shooting, jumping from a high point… yes they are violent but they are also practically instantaneous.

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