Men’s Mental Health – Why We Can All Benefit from Men Seeking Therapy to Improve Their Mental Health

Men often hold more negative views towards therapy than women (Yousaf, Popat &
Hunter, 2015). For some people, trying to deal with an issue by themselves might be
perceived as more masculine. However, there are probably times in everyone’s lives when
they have felt stuck and could have benefitted from an outsider’s understanding, opinion or
support. I know that there have been plenty of these moments in my life.
Men are more reluctant to seek help when distressed and less likely to access psychological
treatment and services when they could benefit from it (Harris et al., 2015). The result is
often an underutilisation of mental health services for males and longer and potentially
unnecessary suffering.

Although rates of depression and anxiety are typically shown to be higher in women than
men, there is some truth to the idea that men are more likely to externalise and “act out”
their distress rather than internalise it. Men are 1.8 times more likely to take their own lives
than women (World Health Organization, 2017). In Western countries, the picture is worse,
with men being 3.5 times more likely to die from suicide than females (Chang et al., 2019).
Men are more likely to try to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, as shown in the higher
rates of substance use disorder in males (Wilhelm, 2014). This can lead to further physical
and emotional difficulties over time, rather than alleviating the problem.

Finally, violence and other aggressive behaviour tend to be far more common in males than
females (Rice et al., 2015). What if psychological distress is responsible for at least some
cases of irritability and aggression, and therapy could help the individual to understand their
thoughts and feelings better and engage in more useful and productive behaviours? Surely
that is likely to have positive flow-on effects in other relationships and for families too.

As a male, it is important to see that mental health challenges can impact everyone. Getting
support for this when it occurs, and gaining the tools to know how to successfully manage
similar challenges in the future is a sign of strength, not weakness. It can feel scary to put
your hand up and ask for support, but as John Donne said, “no man is an island”. We can be
stronger together than alone.


Yousaf O., Popat A. (2015). The bolstering effect of conceptual priming on psychological help-seeking attitudes in men. Journal of Mental Health, 24(6), 347–350.

Harris M. G., Diminic S., Reavley N., Baxter A., Pirkis J., Whiteford H. A. (2015). Males’ mental health disadvantage: An estimation of gender-specific changes in service utilisation for mental and substance use disorders in Australia. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 49(9), 821–832.

World Health Organization. (2017). Global Health Observatory (GHO) data. World Health Organization. Retrieved from

Chang Q., Yip P. S., Chen Y. (2019). Gender inequality and suicide gender rations in the world. Journal of Affective Disorders, 243, 297–304.

Wilhelm K. A. (2014). Gender and mental health. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 48(7), 603–605.
Rice S. M., Fallon B. J., Aucote H. M., Möller-Leimkühler A., Treeby M. S., Amminger G. P. (2015). Longitudinal sex differences of externalising and internalising depression symptoms trajectories: Implications for assessment of depression in men from an online study. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 61(3), 236–240.