Where are all the men in GP clinics?  My reflections on my mental health & experiences of men.

I’ve finished my clinic today.  Nearly every patient was female, and either wanted help for themselves, or was advocating for someone else. I only had one male patient. As usual about half of the clinic related to stress and mental health.

My own experiences of mental health difficulties have led me to question the effectiveness of general practice for helping men with their health, and in particular their mental health.

When I was unwell, I just ignored it for months, probably years. I just carried on working hard, earning money, having a few drinks at the weekend, and trying to be a good father and husband. But all of these things just kept getting more difficult the more I did them. And the thought in my head ‘what’s the point’ just kept going round and round. And I eventually sought help, and took time out.

But I think there’s some truth about the general picture for men. We know the numbers of men with mental health issues are roughly the same as women. And yet we don’t see them as much in clinic.

What’s going on?

Self understanding is a big problem – how do you know if you’re unwell.

Stigma makes it harder to seek help – traits like strength & self-reliance make it harder

Men try to keep working more often & recover in annual leave

Men can be judged and labelled for their external behaviours, such as anger, absenteesism at work, alcoholism, drug addiction, and homelessness

Men would prefer talking therapies, and exercise as the top two approaches to help. 

Tablets are only wanted by 14%.

Given at least 20% of men report some mental health difficulties in the UK, isn’t it time we did something different?

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