Mental health problems in men?

I've had a lot of trouble getting help for some mental health problems over the past 18+ months, and I'm wondering if gender bias has anything to do with it.

I get the feeling men in society are still expected to "man up", and their problems are perhaps not treated as seriously as those of women. I don't have any experience as a woman of course so it could be just as bad for them, or worse.

For example, it's taking months and months for me to see any kind of therapist on the NHS, and when I've contacted private therapists and haven't been confident enough to follow through they've become quite rude to me as if I'm wasting their time. I am aware time is money for them though, but the people who contact them have issues. Putting them down gently would be better, but there was no empathy.

My parents aren't helpful either. My mum thinks I need to "make more of an effort", and her partner sometimes becomes aggressive towards me, especially when I'm having a breakdown which is very very rare by the way. He's never hit me but he's pinned me down on my bed before and threatened to punch me, and my mum didn't do anything about it. I know he has his own issues but I wouldn't put up with that sort of thing if I were her. She immediately asked me of all people to apologise.

I didn't want to take antidepressants because I'm under 25 and they've given me bad reactions twice in the past year, but if I don't take them my parents don't have any sympathy for me because they say I don't want to help myself.

I'm sorry if this seems like a stupid question, blaming this situation on gender bias. I'm just thinking if I was female I wouldn't have had to put up with this. I sometimes become annoyed instead of sad with my depression too, and this puts people off wanting to help me. I don't think this would happen if I was female.

For example, I recently got chided for thinking "I should get help for free" from a university worker when all I wanted was care from the NHS to come faster because I have no money apart from that of my parents because I'm too anxious and depressed to have a job.

I just think the treatment I've been given is sickening. It may not be to do with gender bias, but I've exhausted all options and I'm just trying to find out why the blame is put on me for not helping myself when I can barely get out of bed yet have spent a year at university and almost passed. There's always more I have to do and no meaningful support.

I'm wondering if it's not that men don't seek help, it's that they don't think they'll get it.

It's just something I thought of. I could be wrong, but it just seems odd.

3 Replies

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  • Unfortunately I don't think you are being paranoid. Although not having recourse to mental health services myself except for a couple of months counselling after a horrible divorce ( which didn't help anyway), I know a male friend in his 20's who has struggled badly to get any help for his mental issues - panic attacks, acrophobia acute anxiety etc. , in his case only his mother making approaches to the health and social services made any difference. By definition people with mental health issues are not able to combat the beaurocracy of the NHS. Women by nature have bigger support networks and talk about these issues without shame. It's not a mans world I'm afraid in mental health issues, which is why so many guys struggle in their own and their suicide rate is so much higher than for women. Don't feel ashamed - an illness is an illness - and try to put your case strongly and ask for the help you are entitled to. Even better if you can enlist the help of a close relative or friend. Best of luck.

  • Dear Eichi

    I'm an Italian MD, but I do not practise as a physician, I'm a researcher in the University. I do not know anything about NHS in UK. Here in Italy, a lot of patients with any kind of mental problems are followed by private psychiatrists, since the public service is usually full up. So money, unfortunately, matters in Italy too.

    I do not know if there is a bias against male mental patients. Really I don't know. Probably in Italy there is not. But a general feeling that men should "man up" (as you say) is all around in Italy as well.

    I can make some considerations about you, and some questions.

    Is your mental discomfort recent, or did you feel blue in your teens too? is your mental discomfort in some way linked to the marriage of your mother with your step-father? Which kind of relation do you have with your "real" ( I mean biological) father? With whom did you lived in your childhood?

    In my modest opinion, considering your family condition and your young age, I should conclude that you have probably an "innate" tendency to depression, BUT this tendency has been enhanced by your family situation. You describe your mother as so weak to be quite useless for you, and your step-father appears to be quite violent against you. Are you sure he has never hit you? He surely hit you psychologically. I have to confess I have the feeling thay you are hiding something you do not want to tell. That's a bad thing. You should be open with your therapists.

    Again, in my opinion, since you say that sometimes you cannot even leave the bed, drugs are necessary for you. The problem is: which ones? Here I cannot help you because I'm not a specialist. Some kind of verbal therapy could be surely useful for you as well, but this would probably imply much more money to spend. An intermediate solution could be a good psychiatrist, with whom you feel empathy, who follows you with drugs and with (let us say) a visit each month (one hour talk with the psychiatrist, for instance). This should not cost very much, and it would give you both the benefit of the drugs AND of at least some verbal therapy. There are many antidepressant drugs nowadays, and you probably have to try some in order to find the right one(s): but this can be done ONLY with the help of a psychiatrist. DON'T DO-IT-YOURSELF. It is TOO dangerous.

    Don't waste your time. Be courageous and tackle your situation. Depression CAN be overcome. Life is short, you are young and you must not waste your potentially wonderful youth!

    If you think I can be of any help for you, write me again, even with more specific questions. Or just to have a talk. Try to empty your heavy soul. I know depressed people often feel guilty for something, and they are not. Talking is a way to discharge tension and to free yourself of some burden. I'm here to listen to you.

    See you soon.

    Nick

  • i worked in mental health for many years in the NHS. There is not a gender bias at all, but getting help depends on where you live. Everyone is entitled to an assessment by the local community mental health team, but they will only take you on if you are suffering from a severe mental illness. If your depression is only mild to moderate, then the service is provided by the GP based counselling service, and sadly there is often a long wait. If you are having problems accessing service I would go to one of the mental health charities, such as MIND and enlist their help. There are also some excellent online services, one of the best being wellbeing-glasgow.org.uk which is an NHS bases site.

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