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Why do men not seek support?

In our first article we look at men and their continued reluctance to engage with mental health support.

Man with arms crossed
Man with arms crossed

It is a caricature but sadly true, men are not that great at seeking help. The issue of men being less likely to seek help for their mental health is complex, and it's important to recognise that there isn't a single explanation that applies to all men. However, we can point to factors which contribute to this phenomenon:

  • Social Expectations and Stereotypes: Traditional gender roles and societal expectations often discourage men from expressing vulnerability or seeking help for emotional issues. Men are often raised to be self-reliant, strong, and stoic, and admitting to mental health struggles may be seen as a sign of weakness.

  • Stigma: There is still a significant stigma associated with mental health issues in many societies, and this stigma can be particularly pronounced for men. Men may fear being labeled as "weak" or "unmanly" if they admit to having mental health problems.

  • Lack of Emotional Vocabulary: Some men may not have developed the emotional vocabulary or coping skills necessary to identify and express their feelings effectively. This can make it challenging to communicate their mental health concerns or seek help.

  • Fear of Discrimination: Men who have mental health issues may fear discrimination in various aspects of their lives, including work, relationships, and social circles. This fear can deter them from seeking professional help.

  • Reluctance to Burden Others: Men may avoid seeking help because they don't want to burden their friends or family with their problems. They may believe that they should be self-sufficient and not rely on others for support.

  • Cultural Factors: Cultural norms and expectations around masculinity can vary significantly from one culture to another. In some cultures, seeking help for mental health issues may be even more challenging for men due to deeply ingrained gender norms.

  • Lack of Awareness: Some men may simply be unaware of the importance of mental health or the available resources for support. They might not recognise the signs of mental health issues or know where to turn for help.

Efforts are being made to address these barriers and encourage men to seek help for their mental health. Prominent figures like Prince Harry and many others speaking openly about their own mental health struggles can help reduce stigma and raise awareness.

It's crucial to continue challenging gender stereotypes, promoting mental health education, and creating inclusive and non-judgmental spaces for men to discuss their mental health concerns. Encouraging conversations around masculinity and mental health can help break down these barriers and ultimately improve men's access to mental health support.

At Space to Talk we off a simple approach - we walk and we talk - we don't judge and we don't offer solutions.

About the author

Keith Bunnett is Co-founder and Director of Space to Talk Training CIC


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