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Mounting Pressure Following the Pandemic Leading to Increased Rates of Depression in Men

Updated: Mar 20

photo of a man in a therapy session

“The aftermath of the pandemic, cost of living crisis and longest NHS waiting lists in years, have all collided to create societal issues that are seriously impacting on male mental health.” says Dr Sarah Perkins, Clinical Psychologist at Schoen Clinic Chelsea.

The HSE (Health and safety Executive) reveals that people struggling with anxiety, stress and/or depression took an average of 21.6 days off in 2020.

Whilst it is a complex situation and not always clear cut, at times of economic hardship, for example when a cost-of-living crisis leads to money worries during periods of insecure employment, those who struggle with mental health can be vulnerable to varying degrees of psychological triggers.

These pressures are having a significant impact on self-esteem and self-perception too and there is a pattern emerging. Studies show that men are generally more reluctant than women to see a doctor. E.g., a *study in the British Medical Journal showed that general primary care consultation rates were 32% lower in men than women.

“While it’s clearly a gross generalisation to say women are more willing to talk about emotions and men tend to bottle them up, many studies have looked at how over long periods of time society has encouraged men to be 'strong' and not admit they’re struggling by talking openly to others. There can be a sense that we condition boys from a very young age to not express emotion, because to express emotion is to be 'weak' and that this is not seen as a desirable male characteristic,” says Dr Perkins.

Dr Perkins continues: “Men appear to seek help for depression less often – not because they can deal with problems better but possibly because they are less used to knowing and recognising themselves the warning signs, which is why raising awareness is so important. If you don’t even know or recognise you have a condition, you’re less likely to seek help and will have less awareness that effective treatment is available.

Generally, at Schoen Clinic Chelsea, we see that women with depression often ask for help sooner than men. Often the men we see have a higher risk as things seem that much worse by the time they seek help at a later stage.

The burden of social expectations coupled with economic impact, can mean that men are often brought up to measure their self-worth and esteem by comparison to others, with the focus often on financial, career and status success. In economic circumstances which an individual can’t control, this can have a significant impact on self-perception, adding to a sense of helplessness; all of which can lead to increased depression rates,” concludes Dr Sarah Perkins, Clinical Psychologist at Schoen Clinic Chelsea.

Works cited: (Wang Y, Hunt K, Nazareth I, et al. Do men consult less than women? An analysis of routinely collected UK general practice data. BMJ Open 2013;3:e003320. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003320

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