Guardian letter - men and mental health

The BPC has written a letter to the Guardian in response to an article by Sarah Marsh and Guardian readers on masculinity and mental health.

The article highlighted new research published by the American Psychological Association (APA), which examined the relationship between mental health and conformity to masculine norms such as a desire to win and risk-taking.

The research considered 70 US-based studies involving 19,000 men over 11 years, and found that the traits most linked to mental illness were sexual promiscuity or playboy behaviour.

Our letter highlights that it is not at all uncommon for our clinicians to encounter men experiencing suffering as a result of struggling with masculinity.

Inside the consulting room, our clinicians may see the 'macho' mask fall off.  What is left is a fragile human.

It is quite possible to be a calm, confident and masculine man without needing to pursue an aggressively masculine self.

The full letter is below:

'Sarah Marsh's article ('As boys, we are told to be brave': men on masculinity and mental health, Guardian, 24 November) raises issues very familiar to many of our clinicians for whom it is not uncommon to encounter men experiencing mental suffering as a result of struggling with masculinity. 

Recent political events, on both sides of the Atlantic, remind us of the danger of pursuing an aggressively masculine self - both to oneself and to others.  As research referred to in the article suggests, men struggling to inhabit a healthy masculinity are not only at greater risk of mental health problems but are at greater risk of ending their life.  In the consulting room, our clinicians may see this macho mask fall off.  What is often left is a fragile man, seeking a way to be.  Men can in fact be perfectly confident, calm and masculine without having to pursue the macho stereotype.  Let us hope more men choose the calmer path in the years to come.  It would certainly be beneficial to their mental health.'

Tuesday, 29 November, 2016 - 10:27