26 Sep 2023

Putting the Men in Mental Health

By Lucy Todd, Counsellor at The Eaves

The move towards acknowledging mental health, and therapy becoming socially acceptable, has progressed enormously in recent years. While there remains some stigma around sitting in a room and divulging your deepest thoughts and struggles to a stranger, it is undeniable that the idea of going to therapy has only increased in normality. However, we still have a long way to go and a huge portion of our population remain largely left out of this conversation.

As of 2023 men make up 49.2% of people in England (1) and yet their rate of suicide is 3 times higher than that of women (2). While this statistic is shocking, it becomes further devastating when you consider that for every suicide there are approximately 20 suicide attempts that do not result in death (3). So why is this happening?

The suicide rate in women has halved since 1981, and we can speculate this is due to an increased awareness of mental health and access to treatment. But this reduction is not reflected in men, rather, the gap between the genders has only increased (4). Men have long been told to hide their feelings, that ‘boys don’t cry’, and must be stoic providers. While third-wave feminism has fought for equal rights and allowed women entry into male-dominated spaces, giving women more opportunities to work and be the providers themselves, this has left the position of men in society unstable. The deep-rooted societal expectation of men is to be well educated, financially stable, ambitious, and masculine. Progression in society is now calling for them to also be well-versed in emotional caregiving; something that, until now, was considered a weakness.

This phenomenon is best observed in heterosexual romantic relationships: surely a relationship consisting of two equal partners both providing material, financial, physical and emotional resources, contributing equally and sharing in all burdens, would be a healthy and thriving partnership. But while women still fight for wider equality, men are fighting against internalised norms that deem anything diverging from an out-dated concept of ‘masculine’ is unacceptable. So how do we change this?

It will take decades to incite world-wide change, but at the individual level: therapy can help. By providing non-judgemental spaces for men to talk about the pressure of existing in our world, and by acknowledging men deserve this space to talk, we can offer a way to process how these changes may be affecting you at an unconscious level. If we normalise therapy for all people we give everyone a voice, and a way to soothe complex and difficult emotions we would otherwise be encouraged to suppress.

My practice is open to all genders, sexualities, and issues. If you are struggling with a specific issue or diagnosis, or simply want a space to talk, please get in contact. Therapy is for everyone, and we can change the conversation around access to mental health care. Everyone deserves support, and no one should have to go through life alone.

1. UK Population, (2023, January 1). Country Meters. https://countrymeters.info/en/United_Kingdom_(UK)
2. World Health Organisation. (2019, July 8). Suicide Prevention. https://www.who.int/health-topics/suicide#tab=tab_1
3. Mental Health Foundation. (2021). Men and mental health. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/a-z-topics/men-and-mental-health
4. Commons Library. (2022, December 2). Suicide Statistics. https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-7749/

The Eaves Counselling and Psychology

Lucy Todd, Counsellor and Psychotherapist at The Eaves, is based at our Guildford practice. To find out more about Lucy, or to enquire about her latest availability, please visit her profile here

The Eaves Counselling and Psychology Ltd is a select professional body of Counsellors, Psychotherapists and Psychologists, providing high quality psychological care Monday to Saturday between 9am and 9pm from our practices in Guildford, Godalming, Farnham, Haslemere and online.

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