Wellbeing

The real reason boys are not seeking mental health support

How to help the fellas in your life

The term ‘mental health crisis’ or ‘low self-esteem epidemic’ are often bandied around yet focusing on the problem often means we forget to look at the root cause.

By looking at the root cause, and deep diving into the whys, whats and whens, we can armour ourselves with better tools to help those struggling.

This is why a new mental health survey from youth charity stem4 holds such clout as it gets inside the minds of boys and young men battling their demons to help others understand.

[Credit: Emily Underworld]

Of 1,100 young people who took part, almost half said they would not ask for help for a problem that was making them upset, anxious or depressed, “even if things got really bad”, predominantly because of “pressure from peers to behave in a dominant masculine way”. 

When asked what was stopping them, 36% said they didn’t have the courage, 32% said they “don’t want to make a fuss”, and 30% said they would feel weak or ashamed.

Meanwhile, a fifth (21%) worried that people would laugh or think less of them, 14% said they would “feel less masculine”, and 15% said they don’t know how to ask for help.

This is evident that toxic masculinity is still festering, despite efforts to encourage men to talk more and phase out harmful language, such as ‘man up’.

[Credit: Shutterstock]

Over a third of participants, aged between 14 and 21, said they were currently experiencing mental health difficulties. Of these, 51% had not spoken to anyone.

Speaking about the findings, stem4 CEO Dr Nihara Krause, said we live in a culture that puts huge pressure on boys and young men to behave in ways that risk their mental health.

Dr Krause said: “Our survey shows exactly why this is so damaging, with many suffering in silence, even when they’re approaching crisis point.

“If we’re going to tackle boys and young men’s mental health, we have to address the cultural blind spots to male mental health.”

[Credit: Jose Pena]

She added: “It’s also time to start listening properly to boys and men, understand how they express their needs, and provide services that will benefit them.”

On their mission to focus on root cause and solution, stem4 host parents events to offer support where they explore practical strategies for families, how to spot early signs of mental ill health, and how to start conversations around mental health difficulties.

They are also taking lead from the boys and young men recently surveyed, who suggested positive steps that could be put in place to improve the mental health of young people.

These include regular mental health check-ups (just like going to the dentist), safe places in which to ask for help, one-on-one therapy, better PSHE education in schools, as well as recognition that loneliness is real for boys and young men and that they are not a tough as they portray.

For more info, click here: stem4.

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