With Christmas often being about family, friends, fun, and food, there is a need to remember that Christmas can be a difficult time for some people. We turn to The Samaritans and Positive Male Mind by Dr Shaun Davis and Andrew Kinder for some further insight.
Summary of the key male trends contained in The Samaritan’s 2017 report.
- In 2017 there were 6,213 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
- In the UK men remain three times as likely to take their own lives than women and in the Republic of Ireland four times more likely.
- The highest suicide rate in the UK was for men aged 45-49.
- The highest suicide rate in the Republic of Ireland was for men aged 25–34 (with an almost identical rate for men aged 45–54).
- There has been a significant decrease in male suicide in the UK, and the male suicide rate is the lowest in over 30 years.
We want to continue the great work of people like The Samaritans, who have reported that male suicide has reduced to the lowest in 30 years. However, knowing that men are three times more likely to commit suicide in the UK than women shows that it is still a conversation we need to talk about.
We look to Positive Male Mind for some insight:
- At any given time, 12.5% of men are diagnosed with a common mental condition, such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- At least one in yem of the male workforce in the UK describes themselves as ‘significantly stressed’ and 34% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed they were ‘constantly feeling stressed or under pressure’
- Only 50% of men feel comfortable discussing mental health issues. Also, researchers found that 28% of men had not sought help for the last mental health problem they experienced, compared to just 19% of women.
Sadly, whether we like it or not, there is a stigma around mental health.
The stereotype associated with men being expected to act tough – to be ‘real men’ without ‘soft emotions’ – contributes significantly to the stigma attached to mental health problems. These social conventions prevent men from reaching out for help when their mental health is suffering.
This stigma around mental health can create fear that you will be judged or discriminated against because of your condition. This can also discourage you from talking about your mental health and seeking support. As a result, it can feel impossible to talk with anyone about how you’re feeling. Consequently, hiding your problem and hoping that it will go away really does seem like the easiest – or perhaps the only – option.
A poll conducted by the Time to Change campaign in 2015 revealed that the stigma and discrimination of individuals with a mental health problem face can be worse than the illness itself. In the study, 60% of respondents said that these negative reactions were as, or more, damaging than the symptoms of their problem, while 35% said that stigma had made them give up on their ambitions, hopes, and dreams for their life. The poll also found that nearly half of people questioned (49%) felt uncomfortable talking with their employer about their mental health.
Unfortunately, this stigma won’t go away overnight. But, on the positive side, things are changing.
Celebrities, influencers and the younger members of the British Royal Family are proactively talking about and raising awareness of mental health issues. They’re highlighting the importance of talking and seeking help, demonstrating that we are all in the same boat when it comes to the potential to be affected by mental health challenges.
Employers are also undertaking initiatives to promote positive mental health and educate their employees. Apart from simply being the right thing to do, it makes business sense for an organization to create a culture where employees feel able to talk openly about any topic – especially their mental and physical health – and seek support without being judged or discriminated against.
Looking at the UK, initiatives like the mental health charity Mind’s Time To Change campaign are working hard to end the stigma and discrimination faced by those who experience mental health problems. Since the campaign began in 2007, Mind reports an improvement of 8.3% in public attitudes towards people with mental health problems.
Clearly, changes happening in the wider world don’t always feel like they apply to you in your day-to-day life. Regardless of all the good work being done to eliminate the stigma associated with mental health problems, your reality might be very different.
But, take it from us, mental health problems can affect anyone, and there are people and organizations who can and will help you. You have nothing to be ashamed of.
Positive Male Mind by Dr. Shaun Davis and Andrew Kinder
To read more from Positive Male Mind the book is available to buy here.
Or listen to the podcast with co-author Andrew Kinder on LID Radio.
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