Young Men and Mental Health
It’s Good To Talk…..
We get lots more questions from young people who self-identify as female on Cool2Talk than we do from those who identify as male. However, we do know that just as many self-identifying boys as girls come on the site to look at other people’s answers and access our Health Info Zone. Childline also reports that more girls than boys use their service, and for lots of the boys who do it’s the first time they’ve EVER spoken to someone about what’s happening for them.
So why is it more difficult for boys to ask questions?
It can feel like there’s a lot of pressure on boys and young men to behave and look a certain way in today’s society. It can be hard to manage your emotions and to feel comfortable talking about them. Needing to feel like you “fit in” or be one of the lads can cause real problems for things like self-esteem and expressing feelings.
If you are finding it hard to cope as a guy you are not alone. According to a recent survey by YouGov a quarter of young men self-harm to cope with depression, stress and anxiety. Almost another quarter said they had thought about it.
Other ways of dealing with pressure also included over- exercising, controlled eating, pulling out their hair, punching walls and using drugs. Some young men use exercise as a way of dealing with anxiety to the point where they do long-term physical damage.
Many young men also struggle with self-esteem issues due to the pressure to have a certain type of body. They are increasingly bombarded with false images and messages about what men should look and act like. This might be from films, magazines, celebrities, advertising or even pornography. These images are usually airbrushed or altered in some way, making it impossible to ever achieve this in real life. This can put a huge amount of pressure on guys, especially when you’re still growing, developing and trying to work out the world and who you are.
There is also lots of evidence that shows suicide rates for boys and young men is much higher than those for females.
So we know that lots of guys experience things like anxiety and depression, but that they may not always be comfortable talking about it. If this is you then please confide in someone. This could be a friend, a family member, a teacher or a youth worker. If talking to someone face to face feels too difficult you can ask us a question on the site.
We can only guarantee a response within 24 hours, so if you are feeling suicidal please call Childline on 0800 1111 or The Samaritans on 116 123.