Huge survey shows gender gap and the need for ‘cultural shift’ says charity chief
Men are far less likely to seek medical support for a mental health problem than women, new figures reveal.
A survey commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation found that not only are men far less likely than women to seek professional support, they are also less likely to disclose a mental health problem to friends and family.
The YouGov survey, the largest of its kind, polling more than 2,500 people who have had mental health problems, showed 28% of men admitted that they had not sought medical help, compared with 19% of women.
The survey found that a third of women, compared with a quarter of men, had told friends or family about their mental health problem within a month of it arising. More than a third of men, compared with a quarter of women, either waited more than two years or chose never to tell friends or family about their problem.
Mark Rowland, director at the Mental Health Foundation, said the findings showed that there needed to be a cultural shift in the approach to the issue. “Mental health is so central to our experience of being alive that if we’re ever to rise to the challenge of preventing mental health problems, it will be because men feel more able to share when they are vulnerable,” Rowland said.
“This is not about being more of a man but being more in touch with our humanity.
“It takes courage to be open and honest about mental health, but when suicide is the leading cause of death for young men, we all have a responsibility to push for cultural change.”
Dave Chawner, 27, a comedian who lived with anorexia and depression for 10 years before seeking support, backed the findings.
“It’s important to talk about gender when we talk about mental health. It is more accepted for men to deal with stress, emotions and situations with anger. Anything else is interpreted as vulnerability and shut down.”
In the past year a number of campaigns have been launched to encourage men to talk about their mental health problems. Documentaries by the rapper Professor Green, Stephen Fry and the Bafta-award-winning actor Adam Deacon have all helped to draw attention to the issue as have the #RUOKM8 and #BoysDoCry social media campaigns.