Friday, 9 March 2012

Mental Health and Men

Following on from our blog about women, it only seemed fair to give men their turn in the spotlight by focusing on how gender affects our desire to seek psychological help.

Recently, the media reported a story about a couple who had raised their child as ‘gender neutral’ for five years to enable his ‘real personality’ to shine through and prevent their child being influenced by society’s prejudices and preconceptions. Some would see this as an extreme measure, but do they have a point?

Since the 19th century, men have been pressured by the ‘boy code’. According to author William Pollack, this is the outdated assumptions, models, and rules that society has developed about boys and men. This concept of manliness affects how men perceive themselves, cope with challenges, and behave.

From a young age, boys are taught to fit into the male gender role constructed by society. They wear blue clothes, their parents often tend to them less and they are encouraged to be sporty and play rough and tumble.

As men, they're expected to be strong, aggressive, assertive, controlling, unfeeling and capable of handling problems on their own. This explains why men are far less likely than women to seek help for medical problems. It forces them to hide their true feelings for fear of social marginalisation. This in turn, can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression and in severe cases, suicide. Indeed, three quarters of suicides in the UK are committed by men.

It is therefore important we learn the ‘language’ of men and become aware of the potentially detrimental effects that society has on their behaviour. Everyone, regardless of gender, should be encouraged to share their feelings to receive feedback and support and human closeness. Doing so does not demonstrate human weakness, but human necessity.

Here at First Psychology we understand men may be different to women in what they want and need from therapy. If you would like to book an initial session with one of our experienced practitioners, male or female, please contact your local First Psychology centre on: 

Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440,
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411,

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