In 30 seconds
Statistics show that men are less likely to talk to a therapist about mental health problems than women. This is true even while men are at greater risk of suicide than women. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are options out there for therapy for men – and it’s really important that you get any help you need. You are not alone.
Men’s Mental Health: There’s a Gender Imbalance
There are as many struggles, worries, fears, and anxieties in this world as there are people. Yet mental health statistics show that different genders react differently to their mental health problems.
This, in a way, is normal. But it should make us think twice. Men are three times as likely as women to take their own life, making suicide the leading cause of death among men under 50. Meanwhile, if 15% of women receive treatment for their mental health condition (already a number that’s shockingly low), only 9% of men will.
There’s a lot of work to do to help men in our struggle for good mental health. Something we can do is make the case for therapy for men. Here’s what you need to know.
Why We Need to Talk About Men’s Mental Health
It’s something of a stereotype to say men don’t talk about their mental wellbeing. But stereotypes often have a little bit of truth to them.
The reality is that many men suffer from low mental health. Admitting that is not to say we’re weak or unmanly. Instead, it shows we’re human. And just as we can go through moments of poor physical health, we can suffer from low mental health too.
But not talking about our mental health can be really dangerous:
- Men tend to report lower rates of life satisfaction than women, with those aged 45-59 reporting the lowest levels of satisfaction
- Men are three times more likely to be alcohol dependent than women
- 28% of men did not seek help for the last mental health problem they experienced, compared to 19% of women
- 11.5% of men suffer from substance abuse, compared to 6.4% of women
Ultimately, your mental health is not isolated from your physical body and it can cause wider health problems. That’s why you need to talk to someone.
When Should a Man See a Therapist? Warning Signs
There are many reasons why you might want to see a therapist. Maybe you want to talk through a particular problem, you want long-term support, or you know you are suffering from the symptoms of a mental health problem.
Meanwhile, if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, talking with a psychotherapist can be hugely beneficial.
- You have a persistent low mood. You may be anxious, sad, or worried. But if you feel off for a long period, it is definitely worth considering psychotherapy.
- You have physical symptoms you cannot pin down. If you are regularly suffering from headaches, digestive problems, poor sleep, or muscle pains, the underlying cause could be psychological.
- Your sleep pattern has changed. If you no longer sleep through the night, or you are lying in bed worrying, mental health care can help.
- You are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide. In these cases, please reach out to someone – whether that’s a loved one or professional. The mental health charity Mind has a 24-hour helpline.
- You are overeating, drinking a lot, or engaging in other destructive behaviours. In a difficult time, a lot of men can rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms. Seeing these for what they are is important.
- You are having relationship issues. It can be difficult to maintain a healthy relationship if you are having problems with self-esteem, substance use, or the symptoms of depression or mental illness. Relationship problems can be a warning sign that help is needed.
- You are struggling at work. Mental health issues can come between you and productive, rewarding work. If your performance has suffered, therapy sessions can help.
Therapy for Men: Your Options
Going to therapy is not the same for every man. And if you’re struggling, there are many types of mental health support out there for you.
Don’t worry – you are not expected to know all by yourself what would be right for you right now. Rather, when visiting a GP or in the first session with a therapist, you’ll be guided to the mental health treatment that matches your needs.
Here are your options:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). One of the most popular options among male clients, CBT helps you to change destructive behaviours or negative emotions by changing negative patterns of thought. It’s most commonly used for anxiety and depression, but it can help other men’s issues too – including PTSD, OCD, and panic disorders.
- Guided self-help. This is a form of therapy in which you’ll follow a workbook or online course with the help of a therapist. It empowers you to find the right solutions to your mental health problems yourself, by teaching you the tools and strategies that can help.
- Counselling is a type of talking therapy in which you will explore your feelings with the help of a counsellor. If you are suffering from bereavement or mild depression, it can be one of the best options.
- Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a type of therapy similar to CBT that relies a lot on the methodology of mindfulness. This means that you will focus a lot on your breathing, your present thoughts and feelings, and what is happening in the moment. It can help some forms of anxiety and stress.
- Psychotherapy. In some cases, you may benefit from therapy that engages with your past and how it may affect your feelings and thoughts today.
- Medication. Finally, a clinical psychologist may believe that medication – such as antidepressants – might be beneficial for you.
Find out more: How to Find Mental Health Help
Therapy for men can be an incredibly beneficial experience. While we are less likely to visit a therapist – and more likely to self-medicate for mental health issues – it’s time for this to change.
If you are struggling with your mental health, you deserve support. You are not alone.
What are the Benefits of Therapy for Men?
Therapy can help men overcome mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. As a result, it has the potential to improve your sleep, your work life, and your relationships too.
What is the Difference Between Therapy and Counselling?
Counselling is a type of therapy. In short, counsellors don’t need to be medically trained. However, many men find that simply talking to someone can help them overcome their mental health problems.