Publish date: 19 November 2021

Talking about your emotions is the first step towards male mental health, says mental health trust.

On International Men's Day (Friday 19th November), Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust (AWP) are encouraging men and boys to openly discuss their feelings in order to tackle the mental health difficulties that they face.

Statistics from the Mental Health Foundation show that men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women, with only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies being for men. Men are also three times more likely to die by suicide than women.

A survey conducted by YouGov for the Mental Health Foundation found that only a quarter of men (25%) who disclosed a mental health problem to a friend or loved one did so within a month. Over a third of men (35%) waited more than 2 years or have never disclosed a mental health problem to a friend or family member.

Research suggests that men who can't and don't speak openly about their emotions are less able to recognise symptoms of mental health problems in themselves, and less likely to reach out for support.

AWP clinicians often hear that men feel a pressure to not appear weak or vulnerable, and fear that talking about their emotions might cause others to perceive them as less of a man.

Phil Cooper, AWP's Associate Director of Governance and the Trust's Coaching Lead, said: "Whenever I talk to men in particular - either informally, as friends, or as a Coach - I often ask how much they feel that they can own their story and embrace their vulnerabilities.  Surely the first step to happiness is to understand that being human means being imperfect."

As well as encouraging men to open up, the Trust says that we must all reach out to the men in our lives.

Dr Joe Ryan, Clinical Psychologist and Head of the Wiltshire Psychological Therapy Service, said: "Talk to the men in your life about their mental health. Sometimes just a few minutes speaking to someone can make all the difference. It helps to break the stigma, and it helps them to maybe step forward and access services, so they can get the help that they need.

"If you or anyone you know is struggling from mental health problems, a good place to start is by talking to someone you trust or visiting the NHS website. Also, you can approach your GP, who can refer you through to services."

This International Men's Day, be part of the change, and start a conversation with someone about their mental health and how they are feeling. 

Advice and support for people struggling with their mental health.

If you are experiencing low mood and anxiety for the first time, there is lots of help and support you can access online or through voluntary organisations listed below. If you've tried this and still feel you need help, you can contact NHS 111, your GP, or you can self-refer to talking therapies services.

If you're worried about someone else who may be struggling with their mental health, try and support them to talk to you about their feelings and encourage them to seek support. Just talking through their worries may help them think more clearly and help them to access help. You can also share any of the information below with them if you think it might help.

The NHS Every Mind Matters has free to access resources to better your wellbeing. Answer 5 quick questions to get Your Mind Plan with tips to help you deal with stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, boost your mood and feel more in control.

If you are an existing AWP patient or service user and in need of help, contact the team outlined in your care plan or the Intensive Support Team identified to help you.

If you are concerned about someone who is in immediate danger, contact the emergency services on 999.

The below helplines can provide someone to talk to:

Samaritans resources can be accessed here: