Men’s mental health

Poor mental health can affect people of any gender, but mental health outcomes for men and women aren’t equal. Due to societal expectations of masculinity, men are less likely to talk to others about their feelings, so they suffer in silence. We’ll be looking at some of the facts about men’s mental health, and what we can do to change the conversation.

Mental illness affects people of every gender, and while the specifics may differ, it’s incorrect to assume that men don’t struggle simply because they are often portrayed, or expected, to be strong and silent. This expectation is rooted in toxic masculinity and has resulted in poor mental health outcomes for men. Men are more likely to experience substance abuse and exhibit violence, and more likely to die by suicide. Skewed expectations around how men should display emotion can lead to a fear of being judged, or for crying or appearing “weak.” 

Media and television shows often portray crying men as something to be mocked, but mocking this healthy, human emotional release only serves to discourage men from crying and talking to others about their difficulties. 

Statistics about men’s mental health

While women are more likely to be diagnosed with common mental disorders than men, this doesn’t mean that men don’t struggle with their mental health.


Only 36% of all NHS referrals for psychological therapies are for men. Men are less likely to seek help for their mental health.


Would be concerned about taking time off work, whilst 46% would be embarrassed or ashamed to tell their employer. (Men's Health Forum)


Is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 50 in the UK. (Calm Zone)


Of deaths by suicide are males, and they are three times more likely to die by suicide than women.

Myths and facts about men’s mental health

Fact: While mental disorders appear to be slightly more common in women, men aren’t immune. In 2014, about 1 in 5 women in England experienced a common mental health problem compared to 1 in 8 men. These statistics may be skewed, though, as men often don’t report their experiences. 

Fact: Society says men should be “strong” and not talk about their struggles, but research clearly shows that suicide rates for men are dramatically higher than those for women. Men are also more likely to “cope” with their depression and other disorders through substance abuse. 

Fact: It is a misconception that talking about suicide, or asking somebody if they are feeling suicidal, will “put the idea” into their heads. Research shows that talking or asking about suicidal thoughts is actually more likely to save a person’s life. 

Fact: Postpartum depression (also known as postnatal depression) and other postpartum disorders are often associated only with women, occurring in around 1 in 10 new mothers. However, studies show that 1 in 10 men may also experience postpartum depression and anxiety. 

Fact: Reaching out for help might feel like the hardest thing you have to do. It takes courage to admit you’re struggling when you’re accustomed to hiding your struggles, and everybody, regardless of gender, needs support sometimes. Reaching out also means you’re taking charge of your mental wellbeing, a step that is equally as important as taking care of your physical health. 

Why men might hide their mental health struggles

Societal expectations

Toxic masculinity is a term describing certain unhelpful assumptions about what it means to be “masculine” such as being stoic, not showing emotions, or being outwardly violent and “tough” versus being “soft” and emotional. These perceptions can be perpetuated by the media, which portrays men showing vulnerability as “weak” and something to be mocked. 

Response from others

Regardless of which gender they open up to about how they are feeling, men are often told to “man up” and to bury their struggles. They may even be bullied by their peers. This discourages them from reaching out for help again in the future. 


Due to systemic racism and social expectations of masculinity, Black men are more likely to hide their mental health struggles, are more likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act, and face disproportionate barriers to seeking help. You can find out more about the impact of race on mental health on this page.  

Getting support and how to start talking about it 

If you identify as male and you’re struggling with your mental health, you’re not alone. It might seem like talking about it makes you weak, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s plenty of support out there, and if you’re not sure where to start, learn about mental health conditions or see what help is out there locally to you. If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, seek professional support. 

If you need urgent mental health support, contact your: 

  • GP and ask for an emergency appointment 
  • Local urgent mental health helpline (numbers for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland can be found here) 
  • Local NHS 111 service 

Reaching out to a loved one or trusted friend about how you’re feeling can be an important first step in the right direction. In addition to this, finding a community of people where you feel safe to talk about your mental health can be helpful. Our Clic service provides an online space to connect with others about mental health and find valuable resources, all in a moderated and safe environment. 

Seeking help for yourself

  • Andy’s Man Club

    Are a men’s suicide prevention charity with free-to-attend peer support groups across the United Kingdom.

    Visit website

  • ManHealth

    Offers events and support groups across County Durham, Darlington, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland for men with poor mental health.

    Visit website

Seeking help for someone else

If you’re concerned about someone you know, encourage them to talk about it. It might help to let them know you’re there to listen without judgement. Ask them how they are feeling. If you’re concerned they might be suicidal, you can ask them directly: 

  • “Are you thinking about suicide?” 
  • “Are you having thoughts of ending your life?” 

Contrary to popular belief, asking someone about suicidal thoughts won’t give them the idea, and can actually save their life. Read more about how to talk to someone about suicide or learn the warning signs of suicidal thoughts here.

For more general advice, Campaign against Living Miserably (CALM) offers advice on helping friends with their mental health here. 

Additional Resources

Conversation Guide: talking about suicide

Connect on Clic

Conversation Guide: talking about mental health

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