Focus on: Men’s Mental Health – part 2

We take a closer look at men’s mental health

Part 2 – what kind of problems are men facing? Why do men not always seek help?

Recognising symptoms

As previously discussed, some people may not identify their symptoms as being indicative of depression. In addition to this, time to change found that 39% of men reported that they would find it difficult to recognise the signs of a friend wanting to open up. This is a significant barrier in men receiving the support and treatment they may require when experiencing depression, because recognising the signs is the first step in seeking help.

Smith et al. (2018) argue that measurement bias (inadequate assessment of male experiences) and clinician bias (practitioner’s subconscious tendency to overlook male distress) could lead to an underestimation of the prevalence of depression in men. Due to this, men are less likely to have their depression identified by primary care physicians (Borowsky et al., 2000). This provides another barrier in men accessing help, as some men who do seek help may not have their symptoms recognised as depression by their GP.

Suicide rates

Suicide rates among men worldwide are higher than the suicide rate for women. In 2019, the Office for National Statistics reported that around three quarters of registered suicides in England and Wales were men – this has been a trend since the mid-1990s. However, despite the high male suicide rate, healthcare services find that they are diagnosing and treating more women with depression than men. In England in 2014 it was found that one in five women had a common mental health disorder compared to one in eight men.

Opening up

The discrepancy between the lower rates of diagnosed depression in men and the high suicide rates could result from men’s reluctance to discuss their mental health. For example, time to change found that only a quarter of men would openly tell their friends that they were struggling with their mental health. It has also been found that men are less likely to access psychological therapy services than women – only 36% of referrals to IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) are men.

It might be that socially constructed gender roles discourage men from discussing their feelings and seeking help if they experience depression. Stereotypical gender norms place men in roles where they are expected to be the breadwinners of the family and the heads of the household. This can encourage emotional suppression, because expressing feelings or discussing emotions can be viewed as incompatible with male gender role expectations – for some, depression can be associated with weakness and something that is not considered to be ‘masculine’. These misconceptions could contribute to the stigma surrounding depression and could lead to men feeling that they must be ‘strong’ and not seek help.

The Priory commissioned a survey in 2015 focusing on men’s attitudes and found that 40% of men won’t talk to anyone about their mental health. It was also found that 22% of respondents wouldn’t even talk to their GP about their mental health, the main reason why being that they don’t want to waste their time. It also found that when men were asked about the reasons why they don’t want to talk about their mental health, 29% said they were too embarrassed, 16% said that they don’t want to appear weak, 17% said they don’t want to admit that they need support and 20% said it was because there is negative stigma around the topic.


Words by Abie Taylor-Kelly, our Manchester TMS Practitioner

Recently, our CEO, Gerard Barnes took part in an interview with Speak On about men’s mental health and gender roles. Watch the interview below.


Smart TMS Clinics

Smart TMS was established in 2015, providing TMS treatment at their original South Kensington centre in London. The company now has the UK’s biggest network of TMS treatment centres, spanning across England, Scotland and ireland. Smart TMS is committed to further expansion in order to make the treatment available in more cities, reaching patients who need an alternative treatment option for their conditions.

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