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Men’s mental health and addiction

Posted by Mike Delaney
on 01 Dec 2023

What’s included?

  1. Introduction
  2. Are men more likely to have mental health problems?
  3. What is the link between men’s mental health and addiction?
  4. How can men get support for mental health and addiction?
  5. How can Delamere help with men’s mental health and addiction

Introduction

Anyone can suffer with poor mental health, but statistics show nearly 1 in 10 men experience depression or anxiety. Worse still, less than half seek treatment for it. Men also suffer from substance use disorder at a higher rate than women. 

A review by mental health charity, Mind, found that men are still more likely than women to drink alone, go to the pub with friends, or take recreational drugs to relax when feeling worried or down. 

In support of Men’s Mental Health Month, which runs every year throughout November, we’d like to help shine a light on the link between men’smental health and addiction – the importance of speaking out, breaking down taboos and helping the men in your life get the support they need. 

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Get support for mental health and addiction. Speak to Delamere


Are men more likely to have mental health problems?

Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus. Who could forget John Gray’s 90’s book that set out the fundamental psychological differences between men and women. It illustrated that in relationships men and women process emotions and stress in opposing ways.

It’s now widely accepted that men and women tend to experience different kinds of psychiatric disorders. Women tend to internalise feelings, whereas men and boys are more likely to “act out” with aggression, substance abuse, workaholism and antisocial behaviour (1). 

While the prevalence of depression and anxiety is actually higher in females, because of societal expectations and stigma, men react differently to their troubles. Men are more likely than women to want to deal with mental health problems on their own, preferring to retreat, than seek medical advice. 

As a result, more men than women choose to escape their mental health problems with alcohol or drug abuse. In fact, substance dependence is twice as high in men and rates of suicide are four times higher – sadly, suicide is now the leading cause of death in males under 50 in the UK. 


What is the link between men’s mental health and addiction?

It’s common for mental health problems and alcohol or drug addiction to occur at the same time. This is called dual diagnosis. Even though the symptoms manifest independently, they are intertwined and one can fuel the other. Around 50% of people who suffer with severe mental disorders are affected by substance abuse. 

Reasons why mental health problems and substance disorders coexist:

  • Substances affect the brain over time and can interfere with the pathways that regulate emotional response.
  • People who suffer with PTSD or have experienced childhood trauma may turn to drink or drugs as a form of self-medication.
  • The side effects and withdrawal symptoms of some psychoactive substances include anxiety and depression.

As we’ve touched on, men and women have different roles and expectations placed upon them that determine how they cope with mental health problems. These four factors can make it difficult for men to accept their condition and seek help:

Difficulty establishing social connections

Men are expected to be tough, strong, successful, and capable. But this can place undue stress on men with mental health problems and may result in negative health outcomes. While trying to fit the mould of being assertive and independent, men are also encouraged to cover-up their feelings, which means conditions often go undiagnosed. 

Reluctance to seek help

Men are far less likely to seek medical care for any problem, let alone mental health disorders or addiction. Many men report stigma as being the top reason for avoiding care. If men are depressed and don’t seek help, they are more likely to turn to substances than therapy to solve their problems. (1)

External coping strategies

Women tend to be more receptive to emotion-focused coping mechanisms, such as psychotherapy or mindfulness. Whereas men use problem-focused coping. As they tend to have smaller social networks and a reluctance to share feelings with family and friends, alcohol or drug abuse can become a primary coping strategy. 

Income and education levels 

We know that low income and poor education are both linked to depression (2). People with mental health disorders often self-medicate with alcohol or drugs to numb their physical and psychological pain. As well as having to deal with living in poverty or with unemployment, men’s mental health problems may be exacerbated with addiction struggles. 


How can men get support for mental health and addiction problems?

Substance use disorders can make mental health problems worse, resulting in a rise in overdose cases, suicides and injuries requiring hospitalisation. Yet many men struggle to reach out for support due to societal expectations and peer pressure. 

Men need to know that help is available and there is no shame in asking for it. 

The first step is admitting you have a problem. If you don’t feel ready to access medical help, perhaps you can confide in a friend or a family member. 

Treatments for mental health and addiction include:

  • Medication for anxiety and depression e.g. tranquilisers, antidepressants 
  • Medication for alcohol and drug dependence e.g. naltrexone, methadone
  • Nutritional supplements and exercise programmes 
  • Psychological therapies e.g. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy (MDFT)
  • Complementary and alternative therapies e.g. breathwork, meditation

According to Mind, we’ve come a long way in the last 15 years. Men are now almost three times as likely to see a therapist when they feel worried or low. But we can all help to ensure the access to care continues to improve. If you’re worried about someone’s mental health and addiction struggles, make sure they get help from a trained specialist. 


How can Delamere help with men’s mental health and addiction?

We know that everyone’s needs are different. What works for one person may not for another. Which is why you won’t find a one-size-fits-all approach to your mental health and addiction treatment at Delamere.

Our holistic therapists use a carefully considered combination of evidence-based psychotherapies, exercise, nutrition plans, alternative therapy, and somatic healing techniques to bring you back to full health.

You’ll begin your journey of recovery at our purpose-built retreat on the edge of Delamere Forest. Surrounded by nature from the comfort and privacy of your own ensuite room, you can start to rebuild your life. 

We can offer a full clinical detox which will ensure you withdraw from alcohol or drugs safely, before getting to the root cause of your challenges. With support from one-to-one and group therapy sessions we will help you to build coping strategies that set you up for a brighter future.  

If you are concerned about someone’s mental health and addiction problems, call us confidentially to speak to a member of the team today. Contact Delamere


References

1. Smith DT, Mouzon DM, Elliott M. Reviewing the Assumptions About Men’s Mental Health: An Exploration of the Gender Binary. Am J Mens Health. 2018 Jan;12(1):78-89. doi: 10.1177/1557988316630953. Epub 2016 Feb 10. PMID: 26864440; PMCID: PMC5734543. 

2. Knifton L, Inglis G. Poverty and mental health: policy, practice and research implications. BJPsych Bull. 2020 Oct;44(5):193-196. doi: 10.1192/bjb.2020.78. PMID: 32744210; PMCID: PMC7525587. 

Summary
Understanding Valium addiction and its impact
Article Name
Understanding Valium addiction and its impact
Description
Delamere’s holistic therapists discuss Valium addiction and its impact with advice on how to get help.
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Delamere Health Ltd
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About the author: Mike Delaney

Mike crafted our innovative and person centred approach to addiction treatment. Mike’s experience in the addiction treatment sector encompasses his work as a nurse, psychotherapist and Chief Executive.



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