Understanding mental health for men

As we celebrate International Men’s Day this month (19 November), we decided to find some meaningful ways to support the men in our lives.

Supporting the men in our lives, everyday

As we celebrate International Men’s Day this month (19 November), we decided to find some meaningful ways to support the men in our lives.

Supporting a person’s mental health is something we can take steps to do every day.

Results from a survey by the Priory Group reveal how vital this is – 40% of UK men have never spoken to anyone about their mental health.

While the majority of the men surveyed had talked about their mental health at some point (60%), at least 1 in 3 men won’t discuss their mental health with friends, family or a professional.

What affects men’s mental health?

When men do share their feelings, Priory’s survey found most of the time (66%) they do it first with their partner or a loved one.

Priory Group’s research also found more than three quarters (77%) of UK men have experienced symptoms of negative mental health.

In the same study, the top three sources of stress for men, cited by the Priory survey, are work related pressure (32%), financial pressures (31%) and health concerns (23%).

To get a clearer picture of why men choose not to share, we need to find what is influencing them.

Priory Group found some of the underlying reasons why men choose not to share include:

  • ‘I’ve learnt to deal with it’
  • ‘I don’t wish to be a burden to anyone’
  • ‘I’m too embarrassed’
  • ‘There’s negative stigma around this type of thing’
  • ‘I don’t want to admit I need support’
  • ‘I don’t want to appear weak’
  • ‘I have no-one to talk to’

These broadly suggest men are struggling to validate their own feelings, there is a present experience social stigma around seeking support and feeling like they must be always stoic.

Understanding the effects

The effect of these attitudes is that men will often go under-diagnosed, even un-diagnosed, when it comes to their mental health.

According to Men’s Health Forum, at least 12.5% of men in the UK are living with common mental health disorders – depression, anxiety, phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder and panic disorder.

The impact continues beyond diagnostic statistics.

Men’s Health Forum also revealed men are, statistically, (three times) more likely to become alcohol dependent, more likely to use (and die from) illegal drugs.

Recognising the signs

When you consider these statistics, we can find tangible ways to recognise when the men around us might be struggling.

Some symptoms of mental health which are experienced by men and women are:

  • Persistent sense of worry
  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness
  • Withdrawal from friends or family
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling tired or fatigued
  • Physical symptoms like shortness of breath and headaches

Some symptoms are more common in men, such as:

  • Substance abuse
  • Anger and irritability
  • Working obsessively
  • Sleep problems
  • Reckless behaviour

(Source: Priory Group)

Ways to reach out

Want to reach out, but not sure how?

Everyone can respond differently to life’s challenges.

There are several ways to (re)connect with our friends. Family or colleagues:

  • The ALEC method – Ask, Listen, Encourage action and Check-in
  • Stay social – make a time to catch up for a physical activity or non-alcoholic drink
  • Speak to someone they/you both trust
  • If they mention wanting to see their GP or a therapist, you can offer to drive or accompany them if they need the support

Ways to support men at work for managers

If one of your colleagues or employees are struggling at work, you can show your support in the workplace by:

  • Making time to catch up with the person – see if your workplace can provide any reasonable workplace accommodations to support them.
  • Offering flexible working arrangements – enabling an employee to attend any medical or health appointments, or a working from home arrangement which supports their mental health.
  • Providing access to mental health services – Workplaces can provide access to Employee Assistance Programs. This is a highly beneficial investment, which can increase employee retention.


  • Movember conversations practice tool – Movember UK
  • If you are worried someone’s life might be in immediate danger, call 999
  • Prefer to text? Message Shout crisis text line on: 85258
  • If you need support but are not in immediate danger, call NHS on 111 or the Samaritans on 116 123
  • Find more immediate and specialist support services