November is Men’s Health Month, raising awareness for health conditions men face in their lifetime. Today there is still a stigma around men seeking help for their mental health, which can discourage them from attempting to reach out.
Only 36% of NHS referrals for talk therapy are for men, and men report lower life satisfaction than women. Not reaching out for help can be damaging for men, and they must be encouraged to get the help they need.
Why Don’t Men Seek Help?
Men struggle with their mental health just as much as women, but research shows they’re far less likely to speak out. Expectations and gender roles can influence this, as there is a stereotype that men should be strong income providers who are in control. Phrases such as ‘man up’ can be incredibly stigmatising for men, reinforcing the thought that they should not be allowed to require help or support. This stigma can make it much more difficult for men to seek help when needed, especially for their mental health.
35.2% of men think they have had a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their life. However, when surveyed, men stated that they did not talk about their mental health due to embarrassment, feeling like a burden, and the negative stigma around the topic.
There is a misconception that men are less likely to struggle with mental health conditions compared to women. Around one in every five women struggle with a common mental health disorder, such as anxiety and depression, compared to one in eight men. But there is a debate about whether many men are undiagnosed because of their reluctance to seek help.
Men and Trauma
Men are almost twice as likely as women to experience a traumatic event but could be less likely to seek help for the effects of trauma that can manifest later.
The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in men and women are more or less the same, although each case is unique, regardless of gender. However, research has found that men are more likely to abuse alcohol or other addictive substances to manage their symptoms. A study also found that hypervigilance is more common in men, contributing to irritability, concentration issues, and a heightened startle response.
Other symptoms include:
- Re-experiencing trauma – trauma survivors often re-experience traumatic events as if they are reoccurring. The re-living might be in the form of nightmares, flashbacks, or night terrors.
- Avoidance – certain things can remind people of their trauma, such as specific places, emotions, or people. People may try to avoid anything that reminds them of their trauma, which can affect their work and personal life.
- Numbness – emotional and physical numbness can be common in those with trauma. People may feel disconnected from their bodies and minds, dissociated, and think that nothing is real.
Overall, men are not more likely to experience trauma or develop PTSD. Still, several risk factors may increase their chances of developing it:
- A history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- Lower socioeconomic status
- Lack of social support
- Life stressors such as work-related pressure, financial pressure, or other health concerns
- Lower levels of education
Coping With Mental Health and Trauma
Although it can be challenging for men to open up about their mental health, help is out there. If symptoms of mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD persist for several weeks, medical professionals can assist people in finding potential treatment options, such as:
- Residential treatment – residential treatment for mental health conditions provides a space away from life’s stressors and constant support from trained professionals. Residential care allows people to focus solely on recovery and improvement without external triggers.
- Somatic experiencing – developed by Peter Levine, somatic experiencing addresses trauma that lingers in the body. The freeze response is an overlooked trauma reaction, and energy from a traumatic event can get stuck within the body. Somatic experiencing uncovers bodily sensations linked to emotions and triggers and works to release tension to improve mental health and symptoms of trauma.
- Internal family systems (IFS) therapy – IFS is a form of therapy that looks at a person’s physical and emotional makeup. IFS works to understand the parts and reconcile them together and can help with trauma and conditions such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
Self-care is also vital for improving and coping with mental health conditions. Keeping a regular journal addressing challenging thoughts or focussing on gratitude can improve mental health by providing a space for exploring different thoughts and feelings. Meditation and mindfulness are also incredibly beneficial for mental health, especially trauma symptoms. A trauma-informed approach to mindfulness helps people engage with their bodies and improve self-regulation, allowing them to self-soothe when confronted with triggers and remain in the present moment.
Men face mental health struggles and trauma like anyone else. Although they are much more likely to face a traumatic event, they are also less likely to seek help due to concerns that they may be a burden or perceived as ‘unmanly’. However, needing support is nothing to be ashamed of; there are many resources to help those who need it.
If you have a client or know of someone struggling with anything you have read in this blog, reach out to us at Khiron Clinics. We believe that we can improve therapeutic outcomes and avoid misdiagnosis by providing an effective residential program and outpatient therapies addressing underlying psychological trauma. Allow us to help you find the path to realistic, long-lasting recovery. For more information, call us today. UK: 020 3811 2575 (24 hours). USA: (866) 801 6184 (24 hours).
 UK Government Web Archive, https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ukgwa/20180328140249/http:/digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB21748.
 Kilpatrick, D. G., Resnick, H. S., Milanak, M. E., Miller, M. W., Keyes, K. M., & Friedman, M. J. (2013). National estimates of exposure to traumatic events and PTSD prevalence using DSM-IV and DSM-5 criteria. Journal of traumatic stress, 26(5), 537-547. Retrieved June 5, 2022 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4096796/
 Hourani, L., Williams, J., Bray, R., & Kandel, D. (2015). Gender differences in the expression of PTSD symptoms among active duty military personnel. Journal of anxiety disorders, 29, 101-108. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S088761851400173X