If you read that 84 men a week died as a result of crossing a particular road, you would force them to cross somewhere else. If 84 men a week died because the speed limit was too high, you would demand the speed limit were lowered. So when you hear that 84 men a week in the UK take their own lives - that's one every two hours, you may wonder why we aren't doing more to prevent this (Calm -Project 84).
Unfortunately, for some, gender stereotypes still exist. Talking about feelings can be difficult and to some it is 'not something men do'. It's all a bit 'girly'. Phrases like "man up", "real men..." and "boys don't cry" really don't help the situation. A survey revealed that men often see counselling as "self-indulgent" and something women do (BACP). Asking for help can be seen as a 'weakness'. In short, men are more likely to wait for a crisis until they reach out for help.
Men in mid-life today seem to be hit particularly hard by emotional distress. Life events such as divorce, redundancy/unemployment, physical health issues coupled with a lack of a support network leading to isolation and loneliness can all be contributing factors. Evidence suggests that men are more likely to use alcohol and drugs as a result of emotional distress and are less likely to have people around them they can talk to on a deeper emotional level (Samaritans).
Men can be put off by the stereotypical image of a counsellor (middle aged, middle class woman). It is true that there are fewer male than female counsellors. But do you need to see a counsellor of the same gender? In my opinion, no. My work with male clients is no different to that with females. Everyone is individual with a unique set of life experiences. We all have similar goals in counselling - to gain better self-awareness, to reduce distress, to feel better equipped to lead a fulfilling life. Happiness isn't gender specific.
So why should men seek counselling? Men have all the same life problems as women - anxiety, stress, depression, loneliness. They face the same life events - bereavement, redunancy, relationship breakdown. The feelings are the same whether you are male or female. And just like women, men can benefit from talking to a trained professional to help them navigate a difficult time in their life.
Many well known men have found counselling has a positive impact on their lives. Jon Hamm (of Mad Men fame) sought counselling when he was experiencing depression stating "it gives you another perspective when you are so lost in your own spiral". Prince Harry spoke out about how counselling helped him come to terms with his mother's death.
Men aren't getting the help they need because they aren't asking for help. So if you are a man reading this and think counselling might help, don't bottle it up, don't wait hoping it will go away on its own; pick up the phone and take that first step. It could change your life.
If you would like to find out more, please don't hesitate to contact me.
BACP. (2014). Men and counselling: the changing relationship between men in the UK and therapy. Available: https://www.bacp.co.uk/news/archive/28-april-2014-men-and-counselling/. Last accessed 10th August 2018.
CALM. (2018). Project Eighty Four. Available: http://www.projecteightyfour.com. Last accessed 10th August 2018.
Wyllie, C et al. (2012). Men, Suicide and Society. Available: https://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/files/press/Men%20Suicide%20and%20Society%20Research%20Report%20151112.pdf. Last accessed 10th August 2018.