Mental health is determined by biological, psychological, social, economic and environmental factors which interact in complex ways (Barry, 2009:8 cited in Anand, 2020). For research purposes and to gain a greater understanding of mental health, the relationship between gender and mental health has been and continues to be actively investigated.
Our “Don’t be a girl, MAN UP!” blog discussed the impact that gender stereotypes had on men accessing the appropriate support and services to aid in treating their mental health, this uncovered that men are more reluctant than women to speak out, through fears of appearing weak or the negative associated stigma (priorygroup.com, 2021). The ongoing belief that mental health issues are more common amongst women than men itself is a reflection of assumptions about male-female differences (Busfield, 1996). This could be linked to the reason why women being more likely to receive treatment for all mental health conditions compared to men (Lubian et al, 2014). In reality, various evidence has suggested that although both genders suffer equally from mental health issues, they suffer from different maladies (Rosenfield and Smith, 2012).
In recent years we have seen an increased emphasis on men’s mental health, with numerous organisations promoting the need for support for men struggling with mental health issues. The Office of National Statistics (2019) recorded the male suicide rate in England and Wales was the highest it had been since 2000, with 16.9 deaths per 100,000. However, suicide statistics reveal that women are around 3 times more likely to attempt suicide (verywellmind.com, 2021), is this being recognised and treated with the same attention? Both men and women suffer with mental health issues, but changes in societal attitudes or expectations surrounding gender have enabled for a larger, more open discussion on the topic.
If mental health can impact anyone, surely gender should not matter, we should provide the same support for all individuals as we’re all in this together. Results from various studies have represented that there are no differences overall in men and women’s rates of psychopathology meaning that not one gender is worse off than the other (Rosenfield and Smith, 2012). Therefore, there needs to be great emphasis on both men and women feeling they can speak out if they are struggling and access the appropriate services, not specific attention given to one gender as being considered more deserving than the other.
Our Unmasked hubs are available to both men and women over the age of 16, so if you feel like you could benefit from some support, please visit our hubs page for more information.