Statistics tell us that 1 out of 5 women have a common mental health problem, while only 1 out of 8 men do. However, there is a discussion around men's mental health and the actual numbers of men experiencing psychological problems. Could it be that a considerable proportion of men are undiagnosed and therefore untreated? Looking at the troubling number of that nearly 78% of people who take their life are men tells us that this might be true. That’s 13 men a day and nearly 5.000 a year in the UK.
Suicide and self-harm aren't mental health problems themselves, but they are linked to mental distress. Hence, there is a significant need to target the improvement of boys and men's psychological health. Research suggests that men are less likely than women to reach out for support from professional counsellors for mental health problems and stressful life events. Help-seeking attitudes, masculine norms, and stigma are associated with this resistance of seeking help. So how can we improve access to care for a group that appears so hard to reach?
Improve men’s access to care with online support
Although women access mental health services to a larger extent, men are equally as interested in their own health. Could it be that we need to present support to men in a more approachable way, in a more male tailored way?
We believe that some men could feel more at ease reaching out for support online. The possibility of accessing care remotely can alleviate the stigma, pressure and anxiety associated with walking through the door in their local service. Once individuals have been identified, online therapy can be used to help men to become more open towards accessing care. Online therapy can therefore provide men with a safe way to slowly explore therapy and the services that are available to them.
So for men, online support is an ‘easier to take’ route to support. It is however as important to think about this journey. How do men google for care? Perhaps not by typing into the search bar “I feel so low and sad all the time”. Research show that men tend to express their somatic issues prior to their psychological problems. In order to self refer to an online therapy room, landing pages should be optimised for men’s online search for support behaviours. Improving suitable access points equals improved access to care.
Preventative approach for men's mental health
The NHS is working towards putting more efforts into preventative care in general. We think it’s a brilliant initiative, prevention is crucial especially in mental health! So what can preventative care look like? We believe that prevention can be in the simplest form. Such as creating an atmosphere where it’s OK to talk about feelings and troubles. What if we could get boys to talk about their mental health in schools already? Or if we implement a monthly mental health reflection at work? What if people could digitally work on a single session to change one specific behaviour?
Prevention can also be putting an end to stereotyping. Shifting the view on how men should behave or look like. Actually, the only age group of men where suicides are decreasing is men between 15-29. This might be linked to that only 2% of those men see themselves as ‘completely masculine’ compared to 56% of men above the age of 65. This could be seen as proof that the breaking of stereotypes can get men to feel more comfortable talking about how they’re feeling.
Below you can watch a video by Jonny. He's a man who’s actively changing the stereotypic attitude around men's mental health by putting himself ‘out there’. Video: #IAmAMan
Such a refreshing video to watch, and we love the message: it’s just as ok for men to be who they really are!
It’s really men influencing men. Let's change the attitude around men's mental health.