It’s time to focus on men’s mental health
by Thomas Walker | May 14, 2021
Mental health stigma is challenging for men
How many times have you heard your mate or dad insist he was ‘fine’ when asked about his mental health? Many men mistakenly believe if they were to acknowledge they are struggling with depression or anxiety, that would be a sign of weakness. Their perspective may be coming from how they grew up or the way in which they see men portrayed in the media.
Men and mental health — statistics in Australia
Men in this country are hurting.
12.2% of Australian males aged 16 to 85 have had either depression or bipolar disorder over their lifetime (the equivalent is at least 1.15 million males today*). Meanwhile, 20.4% of Australian males aged 18 to 65 have known what it’s like to live with anxiety (the equivalent is at least 1.93 million males today*).
The epidemic of suicide
Australian men aren’t dealing simply with depression; more men than women complete suicide as men tend to use more lethal means, such as firearms.
Every day in Australia, approximately seven men die by suicide. A consistent trend over the past 10 years has been that the number of completed suicides was around three times higher in men than in women.
A population at risk
The LGBTIQ+ community and young people are particularly vulnerable to bullying, rejection, isolation, and as a result, mental illness and suicidal ideation. When what they are going through seems overwhelming, they need a safe space to be able to talk about their feelings. For many, that safe space is not at home.
One in five LGB Australians is currently experiencing depression, which is more than triple the rate of heterosexual Australians.**LGBTI people are far more likely to attempt suicide. One in six young LGBTI people have attempted suicide, while one-third have harmed themselves.
What is the solution?
We need a three-pronged approach: early intervention, support, and increased access to counselling for men. The earlier in young men’s lives we can open the discussion around mental health, the more comfortable they will be reaching out for assistance.
Support men supporting men. There is a need to offer men’s-only support groups. Men need encouragement to speak freely about their emotions. They are more likely to talk uncensored about themselves in a group of their peers. A dedicated men’s helpline might persuade men to take that first step.
Improve access to treatment. Men have been less likely to seek help for mental health conditions. Only 27.5% of males with a mental disorder and recent symptoms had accessed services for their mental health problems.
Conclusion — early intervention starts with education
Often, there’s a delay between when a man decides to reach out for help and when he actually makes the call. Some reasons might be a lack of knowledge about mental illness or available treatment. We need to make that first phone call as easy as possible, and this starts with basic education.
Stride is available to support you in reaching your mental health goals — regardless of where you are on your mental health journey. Stride headspace centres are a one-stop-shop for young people aged 12 to 25 who need help with mental health, physical health, alcohol and drugs, and work and study support.
If you or someone you know needs support, please contact us on 1300 001907, or for crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.
Here is a list of eight Australian men’s charities that support men’s health differently.
Other Blog posts
- Children and Technology: The Balancing Act
- What is Depression?
- How a Great Night’s Sleep Can Benefit Your Mental Health
More Reading And Resources
*These figures, and all current population figures in this section, have been calculated by extrapolating the current Australian male 16 to 85-year-old population from 3101.0 ABS Australian Demographic Statistics as of 30 June 2016. The population figure, which is 9,484,939, has then been multiplied by the rate in ABS National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007 (2008).
**(Statistics unavailable for TIQ+ population.)