'Introduction to Mindfulness & Resilience' Course for Men
Background on Men and Mental Health
77% of men suffer from stress, anxiety or depression at some point in their lives. Compared to women, men report lower life satisfaction. Yet men are much less likely to seek mental health support. The main reason for this is outdated stereotypes about men needing to be ‘strong and silent’ and take everything in their stride. It’s an impossible ideal to live up to. The resulting stress and sense of failure causes many men to experience low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.
“Pressure for me to be ‘masculine’ started at a young age with my family and carried on when I went to school and then work… I was always told to ‘man up’.”
Some men may also struggle to adapt to the fast-changing norms around gender roles. While these changes are essential for the wider good of society, it’s easy to feel confused about how men should or shouldn’t be in the world. Also, more men are also reporting stress due to factors usually more associated with women: precarious employment (with the rise of the gig economy) and pressures around physical appearance, particularly in our image-conscious social media age. All these factors together mean that men’s mental health problems can easily go undetected or ignored, and can easily spiral out of control.
To make matters worse, many men then feel a sense of shame that they are having mental health challenges in the first place. This can prevent them from seeking support from friends, family or health professionals. Many also turn to addictive substances and behaviours to block their feelings.
“From childhood boys are told to keep quiet about emotions and that men don’t talk to each other… It became tiring and I became very withdrawn. I felt forced to conform.”
The good news – things are changing
The tide is turning for men and their mental health. A new stereotype is gradually emerging: the truly strong, courageous man who isn’t afraid to admit to experiencing tough times. Celebrity men – from footballers to politicians and actors – are coming forward and speaking openly about mental health challenges. They are encouraging other men to talk about their feelings, and to get support if they feel they need it. As a result men are becoming much more likely to seek support from professional services than they were even just a decade ago. Fortunately, more high quality, flexible and accessible services are being offered – both in the NHS and elsewhere.
This course - delivered by Rising Minds on behalf of Quaker Social Action is designed to play a part in this encouraging trend towards greater understanding of men's mental health, and in delivering effective support. Since 2012 our ‘This Way Up’ life coaching and mindfulness programme has helped more than 280 low income people take greater charge of their lives and minds, to deal better with stress and anxiety, and to develop action plans for achieving their life aspirations. The programme has always attracted far more women than men (approx. 80:20). We want to change that – so that more men feel motivated and comfortable to join the programme and get the most from it.