Men seeking therapy: Andy Garland talks about the importance of conversations about men's health. Reaching out and asking for help should be straight forward and easy. This isn't the case for many men seeking support for their mental health.
The stigma around mental health is changing, and I personally see a greater uptake in people seeking psychological therapies. I've been practising for over 20 years, and even though the number of men seeking therapy has noticeably increased over this time, they still only make up less than 30% of my cases.
This means that women are more likely to ask for help and will access mental health services more frequently than men. Of course, women struggle too, and at times will find it difficult to express their feelings. My conversations with female patients gives me a good understanding about why more women present for therapy. There's not a lot of science in this! Women in general share more profound details of their lives with their support group - family, friends, and partners. This creates a healthy pattern of behaviour, that teaches them that reaching out and saying that I need help, is OK. So, why aren't men seeking out mental health treatment that they need and deserve? In my experience, I see men being caught up with an overwhelming sense of toxic-masculinity - men should be strong, and if they show their weaknesses then they must be less of a man somehow. I see men continually doing their best to live up to masculine norms. These norms are seemingly what society has dictated to them, us and me. Is that really true though, and is society asking us to be superhuman?
In my opinion, I feel that these behavioural patterns are established through conditioning, and traditional gender roles - boys should wear blue and play with cars, and girls should wear pink and play with dolls. That was certainly the case for me when I was growing up through the late 70s and 80s. We're beginning to acknowledge and understand that roles aren't defined by gender. It's OK for a boy to cry, and we don't have to man-up when life gets tough.