Men’s mental health is not the same as that of women. Here are some astonishing facts regarding men’s mental health.
Most male suicide is not linked to depression
When we talk about men’s mental health, lots of people think about the fact that men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women. This is true. Suicide kills an average of eight people a day in Australia, six men and two women.
However, the majority of male suicides are not primarily linked to a mental health diagnosis, according to the Queensland Suicide Register. With depression, for example, while nearly half of female suicides (46.5%) are linked to unipolar depression, fewer than a third of male suicides (32.8%) are associated with unipolar depression.
Boys have more mental health issues than girls
Boys (age 4-17) are more likely than girls to have experienced mental disorders in the past 12 months according to the Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. The gap is larger for children age 4-11 (16.5% of boys and 10.6% of girls) than for children age 12-17 (15.9% of boys and 12.8% of girls).
- Boys account for 72.1% of children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
- Boys account for 62.7% of children with Conduct Disorders
- Girls account for around 75% of reported self harm
- Girls account or around 70% of reported suicidal thinking
Boys also account for 52.5% of anxiety disorders and 45.4% of major depressive orders. This changes in late teens and adulthood with women reporting significantly more depression and anxiety than men.
Men aren’t as bad at getting help as we think
The public story about men’s mental health is that men “bottle up” their emotions and need to “open up” more and get help. There may be some truth in this. We know that girls are up to twice as likely to access formal support with emotional and behavioural problems through health services, schools, online support and telephone helplines.
Girls are also more likely to access informal support though the gap is smaller, with over half of boys and nearly three quarters of girls getting help from parents, friends, teachers etc. Overall, girls are around 80% more likely to access formal support than boys and 40% more likely to access informal support.
Men have lots of coping strategies that don’t involve talking
Men may be less likely to access talking therapies, however research in Australia has found that men with experience of depression and suicide have a range of prevention strategies to “keep myself feeling ok or on an even keel from day to day”.
Men have less depression and anxiety but more drink and drug disorders
According to the last National Survey of mental health and wellbeing:
- Women are more likely to have experienced mental disorders in the 12 months (22.3% compared to 17.6% for men)
- Women are more likely to have experienced anxiety disorders in the past 12 months (17.9% compared with 10.8% for men)
- Women are more likely to have experienced affective disorders like depression in the past 12 months (7.1% compared with 5.3% for men)
- Men are more than twice as likely as women to have experienced substance use disorders (7.0% compared with 3.3%)
- Men are more likely to experience mental disorders in all three categories (e.g. anxiety, depression and alcohol abuse) than women (0.8% compared with 0.6%)
Mental health is having a big impact on men’s physical health
Mental health issues have a greater impact on men’s physical health overall. The majority of the burden of disease linked to mental health disorders is experienced by men (52.3%). In terms of life expectancy, research in Western Australia found that the gap in men with mental disorders (compared to the rest of the male population) was around 16 years. The gap between women with mental disorders (compared to the rest of the female population) was 12 years.
These are some surprising facts about men’s mental health. You should know about them to help you make quick decisions about someone you know.