MEN & MENTAL HEALTH - LET'S GET TALKING NOW!
Just over three out of four suicides (76%) are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35 (Reference: ONS)
12.5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders
Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women - Health and Social Care Information Centre)
Men are more likely to use (and die from) illegal drugs
Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women. Only 36% of referrals to IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) are men.
While women are more likely to be diagnosed with common mental disorders, there are important indicators of widespread mental distress in men.
The prevalence of psychotic illness is believed to be low, around 0.4% in the population as a whole, and is roughly equally distributed between men and women (Reference: K. Saddler and P. Bebbington (2009), ‘Psychosis’, in Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey) although the onset of some particular forms of psychosis seems to occur earlier in the lifespan in men (References: Journal of Psychiatry, D. Castle)
One adult in six (17.0%) has a common mental disorder (e.g. depression, anxiety, phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder and panic disorder). One woman in five has CMD (20.7%) compared with about one man in eight (13.2%). (Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014, Exective summary: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey)
There is considerable debate about the true level of common mental health disorders in men and whether larger numbers of men than women may be undiagnosed. In a 2016 survey by Opinion Leader for the Men’s Health Forum, the majority of men said that they would take time off work to get medical help for physical symptoms such as blood in stools or urine, unexpected lumps or chest pain, yet fewer than one in five said they would do the same for anxiety (19%) or feeling low (15%). The Men’s Health Forum has argued that the following might provide a better picture of the state of men’s mental health than the number of clinical diagnoses:
Over three quarters of people who kill themselves are men (Reference: ONS).
Men report significantly lower life satisfaction than women in the Government’s national well-being survey – with those aged 45 to 59 reporting the lowest levels of life satisfaction (Reference: ONS)
73% of adults who ‘go missing’ are men (Reference: University of York).
87% of rough sleepers are men (Reference: Crisis).
Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women) (Reference: HSCIC).
Men are three times as likely to report frequent drug use than women (4.2% and 1.4% respectively) and more than two thirds of drug-related deaths occur in men (Reference: Information Centre).
Men make up 95% of the prison population (Reference: House of Commons Library). 72% of male prisoners suffer from two or more mental disorders (Reference: Social Exclusion Unit).
Men are nearly 50% more likely than women to be detained and treated compulsorily as psychiatric inpatients (Reference: Information Centre).
Men have measurably lower access to the social support of friends, relatives and community (References: R. Boreham and D. Pevalin).
Men commit 86% of violent crime (and are twice as likely to be victims of violent crime) (Reference: ONS).
Boys are around three times more likely to receive a permanent or fixed period exclusion than girls (Reference: Gov.uk).
Boys are performing less well than girls at all levels of education. In 2013 only 55.6% of boys achieved 5 or more grade A*-C GCSEs including English and mathematics, compared to 65.7% of girls (Reference: Department for Education).
The Men's Health Forum suggests that these statistics indicate that male emotional and psychological distress may sometimes emerge in ways that do not fit comfortably within conventional approaches to diagnosis. They also show that men may be more likely to lack some of the known precursors of good mental health, such as a positive engagement with education or the emotional support of friends and family.
A picture begins to emerge of a potentially sizeable group of men who cope less well than they might:
These men may fail to recognise or act on warning signs, and may be unable or unwilling to seek help from support services.
At the further end of the spectrum they may rely on unwise, unsustainable self-management strategies that are damaging not only to themselves but also to those around them.
Such a picture would broadly parallel what is already known about men’s poorer physical health.
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