November is Men’s Mental Health Month in the UK (#MMHM). An annual campaign aimed at raising awareness about the mental health challenges faced by men, and in stamping out the stigma still attached to speaking up and getting help.
Three times more men die by suicide than women; one in eight men experience depression; one in five anxiety; and men are far more likely to go missing or sleep rough. Over 75% of men will struggle with a mood disorder or stress at some point in their lifetime. But sadly, men are far less likely than women to talk openly about problems related to mental health issues; an estimated 40% of men will stay quiet rather than reach out for help.
This means they are suffering in silence: Using alcohol, drugs, and addictive behaviours as a coping mechanism, which frequently leads to further complications including dependency, addiction, and physical health problems.
In a recent report by Richardsons Healthcare, mirrored in the results of a poll taken by the Priory Group, it was found that the top three stressors for men are –
Plus, life can just feel tough at times. Even happy events, like a wedding and the birth of a child, bring with them a level of adjustment, uncertainty, and their own unique difficulties.
In addition to the above, men are under enormous pressure to conform to what is deemed to be society’s expectation of them. To be masculine, to be authoritative, to be the breadwinner; this has spawned phrases like “big boys don’t cry,” “take it like a man,” and other equally outdated and frankly down-right insulting remarks. It is no wonder men don’t feel completely comfortable about talking about how they are feeling. This needs to change.
It is extremely rare to find someone who enjoys their job 100% of the time. Even those of us who love what we do, have days where we just don’t want to work. Some roles are incredibly stressful and require a lot of hours – which can lead to burnout and exhaustion.
In other circumstances it is the job itself that is the problem, workplace politics, bullying, gossip, high or excessive demands, poor management, and unfair or unethical working conditions can all play a role in a toxic work environment, which can have a serious impact on the psyche – leading to stress and anxiety, impacting on other areas of one’s life, and making a person physically ill.
Not all mental health issues correlated with work are because of an extreme or toxic working environment, sometimes it can be down to the individual’s reaction to real or perceived pressure and responsibility. Or it can be tensions from outside the workplace that are impacting on performance, attendance, interaction with peers, and motivation.
Whatever the underlying cause, stress and anxiety is often compounded in men with the additional pressure of feeling like they must provide for their family or compete with their peers (in salary or stature).
The cost-of-living crisis, rising costs for oil, gas, electricity, essential food price increases, interest rate rises – there is a lot of fear around money right now, and for many it is taking a toll on their mental health. The added burden on men to be the breadwinner, in some cases the only income for a household, may well lead to extra feelings of shame and guilt that they are not providing adequately.
Financial worry can have a negative effect on both mental and physical health in men. Studies have concluded that men with increased levels of financial stress are more likely to experience symptoms of depression, including sadness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating and feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. It can also lead to anxiety disorders, including generalised anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, panic attacks, social anxiety, and many others.
This then impacts on physical health. Stress is a factor in high blood pressure, digestive issues, stomach ulcers, it can lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, sleeplessness, bad food choices, and the use of drugs and alcohol to self-medicate or as a coping mechanism.
Men are susceptible to all the chronic diseases that can affect anyone, cancer, diabetes, heart disease. Though research shows men are more likely to disregard physical symptoms, “powering through,” until the symptoms become a hindrance, or simply cannot be ignored any longer.
They are also more likely to engage in risky behaviours; to drink alcohol, smoke and use drugs. Their bodies are generally bigger and stronger, and they will consume alcohol in larger quantities, and have a higher tolerance to drugs, using in increased amounts.
A sensible, healthy lifestyle; wholesome food, regular exercise, good sleep hygiene, stress management, no smoking or illegal drugs, and moderate alcohol consumption (low is even better, and none at all is ideal), can mitigate the risk of certain diseases. Regular wellness check-ups with a GP or healthcare provider can spot the early signs of any illness. Treatment is always easier when problems are caught early.
The following signs may suggest, you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health.
Recognising there is a problem is the first step toward getting the right help and care. The sooner someone receives treatment, the sooner they can start to feel better.
It is of fundamental importance that as a society we help men to understand they are not alone. That it is not weak or unmanly to reach out and ask for help. It is good to talk, and that we will all be there to listen when needed.
Is something bothering you? Do you think you could be self-medicating? Maybe you are concerned about the man in your life – your father, husband, brother, or son?
Here in Ibiza at the luxury residential rehab centre, we offer a range of therapies suitable for the treatment of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, compulsive and addictive behaviours, and other co-occurring mental health conditions.
Our highly qualified team of doctors, therapists and counsellors use a carefully designed program, which includes individual and group therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, EMDR and equine- assisted therapy.
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