Why men struggle to ask for help

03/07/2019

LawCare examines the common barriers to seeking help for male solicitors.

Callers to LawCare are more likely to be female – does this mean women need more emotional support or that men are less likely to ask for help? In this article, LawCare explains why they lean towards the latter. 

Traditional masculinity is often defined by character traits such as confidence, assertiveness and strength. We talk of men being ‘brooding, ‘a hard man’, ‘the breadwinner’. Research shows that men who strongly identify with these values are more likely to have psychological difficulties (Blazina & Watkins, 1996).  In addition viewing maleness in this way makes it more difficult to admit you are feeling down or struggling emotionally, without feeling shame, failure and weakness. 

Men, therefore, are more likely than women to try and deal with their problems alone, hiding what’s really happening and not asking for help. Men can also find it harder to put their feelings into words. This leads to greater isolation. All of these factors increase the risk of suicide, and according to the Samaritans, Irish men are four times more likely to take their own lives than women.

While many men experience classic symptoms of depression, they are also more likely than women to experience ‘stealth’ symptoms. For example, men experiencing depression can often come across as angry; this could range from irritability or sensitivity to criticism, to road rage, short temper or even violence. Men may find themselves experiencing physical symptoms such as headaches, trouble sleeping, back pain, sexual dysfunction or digestive problems that don’t respond to normal treatment. A man experiencing depression may also exhibit reckless behaviour such as compulsive gambling, excessive drinking, or driving recklessly. 

Is this you or someone you know?

It takes bravery to realise you are struggling and need help. If some of this sounds familiar to you, take the first step and call LawCare in confidence for support on 1800 991 801 or visit www.lawcare.ie.

For more information, visit the Men's Health page on the Irish Mental Health website

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This article originally appeared in the June 2019 Member eZine. For more information, and to subscribe, see eNewsletters.