When he finally sought help from his GP, he was not offered any counselling, just anti-depressants. Prozac had recently arrived in the UK. Would some sort of talking therapy, the preferred treatment option today, have helped him? He is not so sure he would have allowed it to. "Men don't feel comfortable in a situation where they are made to express their feelings," James says.
"With therapy, it's a case of sit down in a room and there's no escape. "To be honest, therapy is still a dirty word for most men." And, in a profession vastly dominated by female practitioners, it may be unsurprising that more than two-thirds of people who seek help for a mental-health problem are women.
Mental health champion Lee Cambule recently told a committee of MPs investigating the issue: "There's this perception of men that they should 'man up' and 'just get on with it', that they should be strong in the face of this adversity, and this makes it very difficult for them to then open up and seek help.
"A lot of the things about being a man or boy in this situation makes it very difficult to reach out and get the help that's needed." Simon Gunning, chief executive of Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm), told MPs masculinity was often equated with having what it took to put food on the table. "It has been defined as this strange conflation of stoicism and strength, meaning the strong silent type," he said. But, for many men, it was actually harder to communicate than to stay silent. Calm has sought to bust these stereotypical messages, with clever campaigning that flips them on their head.