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Predictors of Help Seeking for Mental Health Among Men in the UK

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Health And Social Care
Wordcount: 2380 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Predictors of Help Seeking for Mental Health Among Men in the UK

Introduction of the study

Literature has vastly documented that when comes to mental health problems, men are less likely than woman to seek help. Although men and woman suffer from mental illness at similar rate, reluctance for seeking help can be particularly detrimental for men. It is well known that depression and anxiety in men are more likely to manifest in forms of substance abuse, like alcohol and drugs, and can also have fatal consequences such as suicide. This unwieldiness to seeking help may be explained by the literature of social psychology, which can be associated with stigmatization thoughts about mental health and avoidance of seeking help for psychological issues. By considering various theoretical research that can follow from the psychology of men and masculinity, perception of stigma, knowledge of mental health symptoms and self-stigma, can be a starting point to understand male point of view on help seeking. It can also help researchers to identify different variables that may be an obstacle that limit the ways in which men may or may not seek help for psychological problems.


Men are quite often perceived as unwilling to ask for help whenever they experience life problems. Stereotypical society normally portrays men as unwilling to share feelings, ask for help and avoid professional mental help. A growing body of research support these ideas, John Vessel (1993) found in his review of several epidemiological surveys that around two -third of outpatient visits for mental health were for woman. Men are less likely that woman to seek help for common problems like depression, anxiety, substance abuse or physical disability (Husain, Moore, & Cain, 1994; McKay, Rutherford, Cacciola, & Kabasakalian-Mckay, 1996). A survey commissioned by The Mental Health Foundation found men are not only less likely to seek help for psychological issues, but they are also less likely to talk to friends and family about mental problems. The survey showed that less than one in four men who were highly stress at some point in their lives , never communicated that with relatives or friends . the survey also revealed that as a way to deal with high level of stress, men were more likely than woman to turn to alcohol with one in three men (31%) reporting that they start consuming alcohol or increased their alcohol consumption for stress relive. Alongside with consuming alcohol, men were twice as likely  than woman to report using drugs whenever they were stress. More than two million men in the UK who experienced stress had reported to use drugs as coping mechanism. In the UK 67% of men said to have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. with 29% of male reporting that they had suicide thoughts as a result of feeling highly stress. (Mental Health Foundation Survey 2018).

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There were 6,213 suicides in the UK and the Republic of Ireland in 2017, with 5,821 suicides registered in the UK and 392 suicides occurred in the Republic of island. Men are three times more likely to commit suicide than woman in the UK were us in the republic of Ireland, men are four times more likely to tale than own like. The suicide rate was higher among older male 45-49 in the UK. In the republic of Ireland, the highest suicide rate was among male aged 25-34 (with an almost similar rate between male age 45-54). there has been a decrease in suicide rate win the UK. It is known that Male suicide rate in the UK is the lowest since the 1989. The Samaritans Suicide statistics (2018). By encouraging male health behavior as seeking psychological help and highlighting the sex differences in the use of  health service system can be included in public health forum to raise awareness of common issues that men face when comes to seek and receive the help that they need. This approach can be beneficial not only for men but for their families and health professionals to recognize that men underuse the help available to them.

. Empirical research and popular views on man help seeking propensity raised important questions to Psychologist and Mental health professionals. Why many males have issues in asking for psychological help? How do subscription to masculinity norms, Stigma and the understand of mental health symptoms may or not influence men’s using the health service available to them.

Masculinity Norms

Masculinity subscription norms is a primary factor defining, restricting and negatively impacting boys and men’ lives. Understanding men’s propensity of seeking help can be interpreted as a product of masculinity gender role socialization, which assumes that men and women behavior and attitude are learned from cultural values, norms and ideology.

Literature reviews have identified key points in research of Masculinity role socialization; bn

Masculinity ideology and gender conflict( Borst , & Wallace, 1994) The first concentrate in the ideology and belief of what it means to be a men, “attempt to measure “ men’s subscription and internalization of cultural norms and values regarding masculinity .(Pleck, Sonenstein, & Ku, 1993; Thompson & Pleck, 1986). The second identify the potential risk associated with the subscription of masculinity gender norms (gender -role conflict).

When it comes to relying on others, seeking help or talk about emotional problems, it does not feat with men’s  standards of masculinity (Brannon & David, 1976; Golberg,1976;). Masculinity ideology studies, indicates that antagonistic ways of thinking about masculinity norms are correlate with men’s psychological problems like; Depression, Anxiety, Stress, Self-Esteem, Shame, Suicide and interpersonal conflicts (Levant & Richmond, 2007; O’Neil 2010; Courtenay, 2000).

Various studies have evaluated the association between Hegemonic Masculinity and its impact on a rage of long-term conditions as well as identify illnesses that potentially put masculinity at risk (Charmaz, 1995). Hegemonic Masculinity  is characterized by emotional control and  absence of vulnerability, it legitimizes men’s dominance position in society and explain men’s power of woman, (Connell, R. W., & Messerschmidt, J. W. (2005).

It is seeming that men widely subscribe to the beliefs that men should not seek help for physical and mental problems, unless  the help betterment masculinity in some ways; (sexual performance and responsibility in the workplaces. (O’Brien et al 2005). This may be because depression is viewed as a feminine illnesses ( Branney & white 2008 ; Hirshbein 2006) or beliefs that by being depressed, the individual no longer are in control of their life , they are vulnerable and this removes the sense of strength and power which does not associates with the idea of Masculinity norms . (Oliffe et al 2012).

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However, some men have been able to build a positive masculinity identity for themselves that does not involves hegemonic attitude. Emelie et al 2006 found that a small number of males, would indeed emphasize their sensibility and vulnerability and they interpret their ability to talk about depression as a strength which enable them to talk about symptoms that many would interpret as feminine. this shows that despite talks about mental health not being associated with hegemonic practices, talking about issues related to mental health can also make masculinity identity resilient to illnesses that may being perceived as a threat

 Masculinity ideology may not be equal among people and group, it is subjective to change over time. Looking back in early history of masculinity, may help us to understand the origin of dominant forms of” Hegemonic “masculinity which in turn may help us find alternative ways to construct masculinity that cultivates healthier ways of expressing psychological issues

History of Masculinity

Today it is well accepting among social scientist and historian that masculinity traits are not merely attribute but is large in part socially and culturally constructed. (Kimmel, Michael S.; Aronson, Amy, 2004). The image of a strong stoic male is still predominant in western society in nowadays. throughout history male inhibition of emotions has a constant change. In Georgian period (1714-1830) For instance, when with the practice of dissection and the science advanced, it was suggested that that the central nervous system was a big part of the brain allowing physicians to understand about the body. (Ali Haggett 2014). Physicians talked about its function and how the central nervous system worked and were associated with illnesses and affliction. As a result, physicians had a new interest in the nervous disorders that seems to affect man and woman in equal way. The individual who shows syne of the nervous problems were high status families which was consider having a finer nervous system in comprising to poorer people. Being nervous in Georgian society was a well-accepted and was a sign of class.

In Georgian time, man Display of emotions was not a sign of weakness or neither was an association with femininity or sexual practice. During this time a growing number of doctors and “medical treatise “started to emerge, providing advice on lifestyle and medication.

The book called The Malady, published by the physician George Cheyne in 1733, include case history of some of his patients as well as a description of Chaine’s own battle with obesity and depression. She describes experience the symptoms of melancholy, insomnia, lowness of spirit and nervous adaptation which was a result of luxury lifestyle of a model urban life.

 “The rich tended to eat too much rich food and exercise too little. Their breeding and education made them naturally refined and more sensitive, both physically and mentally, and more vulnerable to nervous disorders. The English Malady includes case studies and Cheyne’s own autobiography. The patients described in the case notes are not all suffering from problems of digestion and obesity, although diet forms a significant part of the treatment for all. Rather they suffer from a combination of nervous and physical symptoms. To Cheyne, mind, body and spirit were intimately linked and a better diet and healthier regime a necessary part of treatment for a wide range of mental and physical illness.”


Another Issues positing threat to male reluctant to seek help is Stigma. Self-report of stigmatizing thoughts to seek therapy has been known to be a predictor of increasing the likelihood of men’s not being diagnose with eating disorders. (Griffiths et al 2015). Many males have reported that the feeling of shame and stigma surrounding mental health is what stop them from kept being in therapy or to seek therapy to start with Yoon 2015. As a result, many men internalize their angry behavior and competitiveness, which in turn can result in tragically outcome.


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