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18 million men have mental health problems

More than 18 million men in the UK could be affected by common mental health problems, new research by the MHF suggests. And most of them are suffering in silence.

Men in the UK experience very high stress levels with nearly half (46%) suffering from moderate or extreme stress in a normal week. Fifty-one per cent say they feel down, stressed, depressed or anxious at least once a month and one in 10 men (11%) feels this way a few times a week or every day.

A new report launched to mark National Men's Health Week 2006 - which focuses on men's mental wellbeing - shows that 76% of men have experienced depression or anxiety in their lives.

And the study, among a representative sample of men across the UK, showed that while mental health is a major problem, nearly a fifth (17%) are suffering in silence and don't turn to anyone for help. Work or study is the key trigger for mental health problems (blamed by 48% of men) with financial worries the second most common cause (44%).

Fast paced living (27%) and relationship problems (25%) come in third and fourth place respectively in terms of the reason for feeling stressed, depressed or down.

Peter Baker, chief executive of the MHF said: 'There is a feeling that if you are man you have to be strong and macho and cope with whatever life throws at you. But this research proves that for many men common mental health problems are impacting on their lives.

'We're particularly concerned to find that one man in three with stress, depression or anxiety says that feeling embarrassed or ashamed would stop him seeking help while one man in 10 would try and cover up a mental health problem. Of those who have felt down, just one man in three visited a doctor for help compared to almost half of women.

"The aim of National Men's Health Week is to raise awareness of issues as they relate to men. We want health professionals to make their services more male-friendly so that men feel they have somewhere to turn. Our research proves there really is a lot of work to be done to de-stigmatise mental health problems for men in particular as they still feel that 'big boys don't cry'.'

The research also shows:

  • Stress, anxiety or depression is causing one third (32%) of sufferers to drink more alcohol while nearly one in five (18%) start binge eating to try and cope. A further 18% start or increase smoking and 4% admit to using illegal drugs in a bid to make themselves feel better
  • Most sufferers (55%) say stress, depression or anxiety leads them to being more irritable with 50% claiming it also drains them physically
  • Nearly a fifth (17%) say it makes them aggressive with slightly less (15%) believing it impacts on their sex lives
  • London and the South have the biggest proportion of men suffering from extreme stress (5%) while men living in Northern Scotland are the least likely to be affected (0%)

Stigma remains the biggest reason for UK men not seeking professional help with nearly a third (30%) of sufferers claiming they'd be too embarrassed or ashamed to ask for it.

Of those who do turn for help, partners, other family members and friends top the list of whose shoulders they lean on (70% of men who have felt down turn to them). But bosses remain the least likely to know with only 6% of sufferers turning to their employer for help and understanding.

The Men's Health Forum is calling on the government to create a national initiative to help men achieve improved mental well-being. This will involve looking at key public policy issues affecting the mental health of men such as long working hours, the involvement of fathers in family life, and men's access to health services. The Men's Health Forum also believes health professionals require training and support to ensure the symptoms indicative of emotional distress specific to men are recognised.

The survey was carried out by YouGov. The 18 million figuire is arrived at by extrapolating the sample to cover the whole UK adult male population.

To coincide with National Men's Health Week, a new Brain Manual is being launched by Haynes Publishing in partnership with the Men's Health Forum. This offers men detailed information on maintaining a healthy mind in the format of a computer maintenance manual.

Men's Health Week 2006 links

  • Order Brain Manuals and mini-manuals here
  • Check local MHW events here.
  • MHW background and registration information here.
  • Full list of sponsors here.
  • There's also much more on Men's Health Week 2006, mental health and emotional well-being on the Forum's malehealth site.

Page created on June 12th, 2006

Page updated on December 1st, 2009