The same week also saw Olly Alexander, lead singer of 'Years & Years' present a documentary on BBC Three entitled 'Growing Up Gay', in which he spoke frankly about his own struggles with mental health, self harm, and an eating disorder. The documentary is available to watch on iPlayer for another five months . Also hitting headlines in the same week was Nigel Owens, the Welsh rugby referee, speaking about his own continuing struggles with bulimia .
Suicide is the leading cause of death in people aged between 20 and 34 in the UK, and across Europe there are 55,000 suicides every year . This equates to one person dying from suicide every two hours. Of these suicides, there are four men for every woman dying. When it comes two mental health diagnoses though, of the one in every six adults in UK who have a diagnosis, women are twice as likely as men to have depression. The reverse is true of children .
It's not only in those seeking help where we find a disparity in the mental health field. According to a BACP survey of its members in 2014, 84% of counsellors and therapists who are BACP registered are female . The UKCP (United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapy) carried out a similar survey in 2016 and found that 74% of its members are female .
I believe I can be fairly confident that we are all familiar with phrases such as "man up", where we are slowly taught that our emotions are shameful. Men are expected to deal, to just move on, to get it done. The expectation that is we cannot just do without being affected or impacted we are not good enough. Men are socialised to be less likely to seek help when they are struggling, and this may intensify the issue. It also stands to further isolate men socially and increase the barrier to seeking help. I have previously written about the Disney PIXAR film 'Inside Out' highlights the importance of allowing traditionally 'negative' emotions , and I feel a similar dynamic is present in how men are disallowed emotions generally.
As a professional, as a person, as a man this is ultimately frustrating. I wish I had a conclusion to draw; that I could synthesise some sound bite or a take home message. Instead I think this may be outreach to those who are already able to engage with the realm of mental health, a passing of a mission to make it okay to not be okay. But, if you are struggling but feel that it's difficult to been seen as not coping, you can get support anonymously. Samaritans are a listening service you can call anonymously and for free 24 hours a day seven days a week on 116 123.
- Chen, J. (2017). Chester Bennington on depression: My mind 'is like a bad neighborhood'. Rollingstone.com. http://rol.st/2volBta
- Growing Up Gay (2017). BBC Three Television. http://bbc.in/2tmF3H7
- Owens, N. (2017). International ref Nigel Owens' ongoing bulimia battle. BBC.co.uk. http://bbc.in/2uoiIGz
- Office of National Statistics (2015). 'What do we die from?' http://bit.ly/2vsUKgE
- Bell, A. (2016). With men less likely to seek help with their mental health, access must be made easier. HuffingtonPost.com. http://bit.ly/2fIvIys
- Brown, S. (2017). Is counselling women's work? Therapy Today, Vol. 28 (2), pp 8-11. http://bit.ly/2uVMHHx
- McCarthy, K. (2016). ‘Toxic masculinity’ leads to mental health problems for men. Healthline.com. http://bit.ly/2f7YpcV
- Thomas, A. (2015). Pixar: Shining a light on the importance of traditionally ‘negative’ emotion. EaseTherapy.uk http://bit.ly/2w5PNY7