Men need to talk too
Recently, it was International Men’s Day, celebrating the positive value men bring to the world, their families and communities. The theme this year was ‘Zero Male Suicide’. Zero male suicide is a challenging theme but the truth is that three times as many men die by suicide than women in the UK.
Mental health problems affect both men and women, but UK stats show that men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women: only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men.
When I first started training to become a clinical hypnotherapist, I naturally leaned towards approaching women to be my case studies. In truth, in my first year of professional practice, my ratio of women to men was 100 to 0.
Now in my fifth year of practice, this has changed. I have more men as clients, have become much more confident working with men, and feel better informed about the cultural differences that differentiate men from women.
How 'masculinity' is stopping men from talking
As part of International Men’s Day, I attended a talk by Lewis Wedlock who is an activist and academic on the confined cultural expectations of masculinity. He talked about the fact that men often hide psychological problems and avoid seeking help due to perceptions of what is ‘typical masculinity’ - characteristics of being in control, tough, the provider, and being rational and logical.
If men don’t meet these cultural standards, they can feel like a failure.
For all of us to challenge confined cultural expectations, we need to understand that these expectations are unrealistic. We need to celebrate the uniqueness and individuality of men alongside women and allow men to feel safe and understood to make mistakes, to ask for help, to be gentle, to be vulnerable, and to be able to confront and accept truths.
Encouragingly, perceptions of masculinity are changing, with younger men getting more comfortable about discussing their mental health, and using physical and verbal gestures with each other such as hugs and care language. A 2019 report on men’s mental health from Mind showed that men are now almost three times more likely to see a therapist when low or worried than in 2009. But there is still much more to be done to make sure that men are receiving the right support and feel able to reach out for help.
The biggest step change to improve men’s mental health is to humanise the topic - to allow it to be normalised in day-to-day conversations.
There are also many resource services, some specifically for men:
- Men’s Health Forum
- Peer support groups, like Talk Club
- Mental Health Foundation
- The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)
- Tough Enough To Care
How can hypnotherapy help?
Hypnotherapy provides a safe and empathetic space for men to talk and break free from stigma. It empowers men to explore their best hopes, manage stress, heal from trauma, and achieve emotional well-being.
Hypnotherapy won’t fix the stereotypes about ‘masculinity’ but it will help men feel validated that they deserve support and recognise that self-care is the best gift they can give themselves.
If you can relate to what I’ve shared and would like some support, I’m here. Visit my profile and get in touch to chat via a free and confidential call.