Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are real conditions and occur at high rates in males of all ages.
Men have high rates of various mental health issues. These include elevated rates of suicide and substance abuse, as well as low rates of mental health service engagement.
Males are four times more likely to commit suicide than females. Globally every minute a man dies by suicide, In Ireland 75% of suicides are in men. A common factor among those males at risk is the perceived (or real) rejection from mainstream society, leading to strong feelings of alienation and isolation.
Substance use too is a predominantly male problem, occurring at a rate of 3 to 1 in comparison to females. Research indicates that many men engage in substance abuse in response to stressful life transitions including unemployment and divorce. Indeed, many men report negative experience in family courts, where decreased custody and minimal visitation rights are the norm for Irish fathers.
This separation and loss can be soul-destroying for the men concerned, leaving them isolated and alienated from mainstream society. As such, substance abuse may be a maladaptive response to a malevolent situation.
Evidence suggests that men are significantly less likely to use mental health services in response to a mental health issues in comparison with women. In other words, men who are suicidal, have low mood or are anxious or have substance abuse problems are much more likely to suffer in silence.
Formal mental health services are not always finely attuned to men’s needs, especially minority men. Indeed, these services can emphasize medication or talk-therapy alone and while both medication, talk therapy, mindfulness, meditation and exercise are very important tools in a path to recovery some men prefer action over words in the face of stressful situations.
This may explain the growing popularity of practical interventions such as "men’s sheds." These are physical spaces where isolated and lonely men can gather together for practical activities such as woodwork and repairs, while receiving valuable peer-support in the process.
Men’s mental health should be recognized as a social issue as much as a health issue, with attention paid to issues such as unemployment and familial disruption. We advocate for an increase in male-tailored options that respond to men’s unique mental health needs.
Don’t suffer in Silence
It’s OK not to be OK and it absolutely OK to ask for help
To speak with someone immediately, contact Pieta House on 1800 247 247 or The Samaritans on 116 123.
If life is in danger, call 112 or 999 or go directly to emergency services in your local Hospital