Page last updated at 23:42 GMT, Sunday, 10 May 2009 00:42 UK

Men 'suffering recession blues'

Depressed man
Black men suffer disproportionately from mental health problems

Men are struggling to cope with the emotional impact of the recession, a mental health charity has warned.

Almost 40% of men admit to feeling low at the moment with job security, work and money playing on their minds, a Mind survey of 2,000 adults found.

Yet men are less likely than women to seek help from their GP or a counsellor, the results suggested.

The charity said 2.7m men in England currently have a mental health problem such as depression, anxiety or stress.

Men responding to the survey seemed to be more reluctant to talk about when they were feeling stressed or low than women.

Only 29% of men would talk to friends about their problems compared with 53% of women and they were also less likely to talk to their family.

Men were also less likely to seek out professional help and a third would feel embarrassed about it.

The recession is clearly having a detrimental impact on the nation's mental health but men in particular are struggling with the emotional impact
Paul Farmer, Mind

And 5% of men said they had experienced suicidal thoughts compared with 2% of women.

A report from Mind, has called for the government to produce a men's mental health strategy and for employers to do more to help stressed male workers.

Mind said even though men and women experience mental health problems in roughly equal numbers, men are much less likely to be diagnosed and treated for it.

The recession could make the situation much worse, with research showing one in seven men develop depression within six months of losing their jobs.

Some minority ethnic groups are at a higher risk of mental distress than others, Mind said.

For example African Caribbean men are three times more likely than white men to be formally detained under the Mental Health Act and are also more likely to be inpatients on mental health wards and to receive invasive medical treatments.

Identity

Paul Farmer, chief executive at Mind, said: "The recession is clearly having a detrimental impact on the nation's mental health, but men in particular are struggling with the emotional impact.

"Being a breadwinner is something that is still crucial to the male psyche so if a man loses his job he loses a large part of his identity putting his mental wellbeing in jeopardy.

"The problem is that too many men wrongly believe that admitting mental distress makes them weak and this kind of self stigma can cost lives."

He added that the NHS must become more "male-friendly" offering treatments that appeal to men, like exercise on prescription or computerised therapy and advertising their services in places men frequent.

Stephen Fry who is supporting the Mind campaign to encourage men to seek help, said: "For so long I tried to get on with my life and career, somehow coping with the huge highs and lows I experienced.

"If I had felt able to get it off my chest when I was younger I could have got more of the support I needed."

Peter Cooper, spokesman for the British Psychological Society, said the fact that men were less likely to talk about feelings added to anxiety and depression and unhealthy behaviours such as drinking.

"With men there's much more shame about say the loss of a job or the loss of a home.

"The type of help that men need includes psychotherapy but what they are also desperate for is pragmatic practical help."



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