Are young men at risk of mental health problems later in life? And if so, what can you do to mitigate the risks and help them now? In todays blog, we aim to look the reasons many men suffer with their mental health.
How big is the problem?
It’s reported that 1 in 8 men in England have a mental health problem. However, many of them are reluctant to seek advice or open up about these problems to loved ones. In fact, men have been found to be less likely to access psychological therapies than women, with males making up only 36% of referrals to Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT).
Why do men suffer from mental health problems?
Well, there is no one answer. There are lots of reasons for both males and females to suffer with their mental health. But, that said, there are some unique reasons to affect men in particular. For example, it has been found that societal expectations and traditional gender roles play a part in men’s mental health.
For men, societal expectations about how men “should” behave and what masculinity is includes the expectation that men be the breadwinners of their family, and that they display what have traditionally been perceived as masculine traits like strength, stoicism, dominance, and control.
Now, we’re not saying that wanting to possess these traits is wrong, it’s very healthy to want any of these in measure, the problem comes when men feel obligated and pressured to exhibit these characteristics. Not only can this lead to poor mental health but it can be one of the reasons why the person suffering is unable to speak up.
So how do we help young men?
In our last blog on bullying, we concluded that one of the best ways to tackle the issue is the encourage open communication and build trust. Many will argue that early diagnoses is always an important factor in tackling a health issue. If we start teaching young men at an early age that it’s ok to talk about their emotions, they may be more willing to say share their mental health problems with loved ones.
Furthermore, mental health campaigner, Natasha Devon MBE has been quoted as saying “ In my training with schools, I ask them to think about the environments in which boys and young men have told me they feel comfortable expressing themselves – which might include sports or music clubs, and to reflect on how accessible these are for their pupils.”
Therefore, encouraging young boys to open up about their feelings goes beyond just verbal validation. You should consider where they feel most comfortable sharing their intimate thoughts and feelings.
Lastly, removing the pressure for young men to live up to specific gender roles, and instead encouraging them to choose their own path may have a significant affect on their future mental health. Of course, this isn’t as easy as it sounds, but as someone who is guiding their future, the example you set will have a big impact on their world view.
To learn more about the mental health of young men, you can read this interesting article by the Metro.