Following on from our previous blog on emotions, we are dedicating June 2024, which includes Men’s Health Week (12-18 June #menshealthweek), Father’s Day (Sunday 16th June), and International Father’s Mental Health Day (Friday 21st June), to consider the challenges men face in relation to wellbeing and mental fitness. 
 
Why Focus on Men’s Wellbeing? 
 
In last month’s blog, Emotions: How to let them be your guide but not dictate your path, we offered tips on understanding and managing emotions. This month, however, we acknowledge that our advice might be harder for some people to act on than others and, given June’s focus on men’s health and wellbeing, now feels like a timely opportunity to consider some of the challenges we all face in ensuring that the men in our society are able to access vital information and support with their wellbeing and mental fitness. 
 
Current Campaigns and Statistics 
 
Recent research from Three and Samaritans, in collaboration with Chelsea FC’s #talkmorethanfootball campaign, found that over two-thirds of football fans have struggled with mental health, with 94% never opening up about it to fellow fans. While not all football fans are men, and not all men are football fans, these findings suggest a broader issue that is also highlighted by the Office of National Statistics’ data showing men have a consistently higher suicide rate than women in the UK. 
 
Men’s Mental Health: An Overview 
 
The Mental Health Foundation highlights several enlightening statistics: 
 
In 2014, one in six adults in England reported a common mental health problem: around one in five women and one in eight men. 
 
Approximately three-quarters of suicides in the UK are among men, a consistent trend since the mid-90s. 
 
Men report lower levels of life satisfaction and are less likely to access psychological therapies than women. 
 
Nearly three-quarters of missing adults and 87% of rough sleepers are men. 
 
Men are more likely to become alcohol dependent, report frequent drug use, and make up the vast majority of our prison population. 
 
Gender Differences in Mental Health 
 
While both men and women experience mental health issues, the types and prevalence of these issues often differ. Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety and more likely to experience eating disorders and PTSD. Men, on the other hand, face higher rates of substance abuse and suicidality. 
 
The Impact of Social Expectations 
 
The differences in mental health experiences between genders can often be attributed to societal expectations and stereotypes. For instance, men are traditionally expected to be breadwinners, strong, dominant, and in control. These expectations can prevent men from acknowledging their emotions and from seeking help. 
 
The Consequences of Avoiding Emotions 
 
Men often face pressure to avoid showing vulnerability. This can lead to emotional suppression, which may manifest as anger or aggression rather than addressing the underlying issues. For example, a man worried about finances might avoid addressing this anxiety which can lead to instances of misdirected anger and frustration instead. 
 
Seeking Support: Overcoming Barriers 
 
Understanding the societal conditioning that impacts men’s emotional experiences and responses is crucial. If we are to help men to recognise and manage their emotional turmoil, and ensure that they feel able to seek help, we need to address the very real and understandable fear of stigma and judgment that they face too. 
 
Emotional Conditioning and Gender Roles 
 
Men often grow up being told to "man up" or to avoid being a "cry baby," reinforcing the notion that showing emotion is weak. This can very understandably lead to difficulties in emotional recognition, expression, and regulation. 
 
The Importance of Rationality 
 
Our society also expects men to be more rational, and therefore less emotional, than women. The idea that rational thought is devoid of emotion is, however, incredibly outdated. Emotions play a critical role in decision-making and ignoring them can often lead to irrational decisions, emphasizing the need to balance rationality with emotional understanding. 
 
Creating Change: What Can We Do? 
 
As individuals, as organisations, as communities, and as a society more generally, we must continue to challenge stereotypes and stigma around men’s mental health. We must engage with campaigns promoting men’s mental health, question biases (both in ourselves and others), create supportive environments for men to learn about and express their emotions, and ensure that we let their lived experience inform our understanding. 
 
Engaging with Men Directly 
 
To better understand the challenges men face, we encourage open dialogue. Men’s personal experiences provide valuable insights into how we can offer better support. 
 
Share Your Experiences 
 
With this in mind, we invite men to share their experiences so that we can better understand them and incorporate that understanding into supporting our community better. We'd love to hear from the men around us and, if you'd like to contribute but aren't sure where to start, here are a few questions to get you started: 
 
Have you ever felt pressure to conform to traditional stereotypes of masculinity? How has this impacted your mental health? 
 
Do you think being a man affects how you express your emotions? If so, how and why? 
 
What challenges do you face when discussing your emotions or seeking help for mental health issues? 
 
Are there specific societal or cultural factors in the UK that contribute to men feeling hesitant to talk about their emotions or seek support? 
 
How can we create more inclusive spaces where men feel comfortable discussing their mental health without fear of judgment? 
 
What role do family, friends, and communities play in supporting men's mental health? 
 
Are there any resources or support networks in the UK that you've found particularly helpful for men dealing with mental health issues? 
 
What changes would you like to see in how society perceives and addresses men's mental health issues? 
 
Your insights will help us better understand and support men’s mental health and wellbeing. You can contact us via LinkedIn, Facebook, our website, or by email at strive@sanamente-hypnotherapy.co.uk
 
Conclusion 
 
A better world for men is a better world for everyone. By addressing the unique challenges men face in terms of mental health, we can build a more supportive and understanding society for all genders. So, let’s continue to ask important questions, support the men in our lives, and create spaces where men feel safe to express their emotions and seek information and support. 
 
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If you are struggling with your mental health or wellbeing, or are worried about someone else, please don’t hesitate to make contact and we’d be very happy to see what we might be able to do to help. 
 
Here are some helpful links to some wonderful organisations that may be able to help too: 
 
In an emergency situation please call 999 or attend your nearest A&E for urgent assistance. 
 
The Samaritans offer a 24/7 telephone service where you can call for support from one of their wonderful volunteers 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123 (UK and the Republic of Ireland), visit their website [here], and find out more about their #talkmorethanfootball campaign, where they challenge men’s mental health stigma, and provide practical tips on how to #talkmorethanfootball
 
The NHS help for suicidal thoughts webpage includes information on other sources of support as does the Mental Health Foundations GET HELP page. 
 
Other wonderful organisations promoting men’s health and wellbeing include: 
CALM 
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