More than a quarter (28%) of men said they had not sought medical help for the last mental health problem they experienced compared to 19% of women, a survey has found.
The survey by YouGov, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation, found that men who have had a mental health problem are also less likely to tell friends and family when a problem develops. The survey – polling more than 2,500 people with lived experience of mental health problems – comes at a time when there is an increased focus on men’s mental health with the #RUOKM8 and #BoysDoCry campaigns. The survey also found that:
• 33% of women who disclosed a mental health problem to a friend or loved one did so within a month, compared to only 25% of men
• 35% of men waited more than 2 years or have never disclosed a mental health problem to a friend or family member, compared to 25% of women.
Mark Rowland, director of communications and fundraising at the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Mental health is so central to our experience of being alive that if we’re ever to rise to challenge of preventing mental health problems, it will be because men feel more able to share when they are vulnerable. This is not about being more of a man but being more in-touch with our humanity. It takes real courage to be open and honest about mental health, but when suicide is the leading cause of death for young men, we all have a responsibility to push for cultural change.”
Dave Chawner, 27, a comedian who lived with anorexia and depression for 10 years before seeking support, said: “I think it’s important to talk about gender when we talk about mental health, because the ways we’re expected to deal with things is different. It is more accepted for men to deal with stress, emotions and situations with anger and aggression. Anything else is interpreted as vulnerability and shut down.
“It’s so important that a reluctance to seek help isn’t mistaken for a lack of severity, especially when it comes to men. Men are more likely to say something like ‘I’m feeling a bit shit’ when really they mean, this is the worst I’ve ever felt in my life and I can’t imagine feeling worse.”