Atomik Research were commissioned to conduct online research by the charity, Samaritans to investigate the stigma around seeking help for mental health issues. Although Samaritans commissioned a national representative survey, they also commissioned a separate line of research looking specifically at the reactions and attitudes of men towards their own mental health. Three thousand men aged 18 or over were surveyed online; of those, 2,040 were men aged between 20 and 59 from England, Scotland and Wales.

The research was commissioned as part of the charities Real People, Real stories campaign which is supported by National Rail. The campaign involves men who have overcome tough times sharing their stories to encourage those most at risk of suicide to get help. Real People Real Stories is also supported by ex-footballer and boxer Leon McKenzie, who has spoken of his own past struggles in a “dark place”.

Key findings from the online research included:

  • A fifth of men aged 20 to 59 don’t speak to anyone when they’re struggling
  • A fifth of men between the ages of 20 and 59 have attempted suicide
  • 35% of the men surveyed say they’d prefer to have a conversation with someone they know
  • 54% of men discuss the issue with their partner
  • 32% would talk things through with their friends
  • 23% would discuss their problems with their parents
  • 40% of the men say that they prefer to solve their issues by themselves
    • 29% of men don’t want to feel like a burden
    • 21% feel like their problems wouldn’t be understood
    • 20% don’t reach out to others for fear of being judged
    • Other factors include: not feeling like they have the energy (17%), not knowing who to speak to (14%), and not having people they can trust enough to discuss their issues with (13%)
  • 16% of men would want to read about the problem, including looking online
  • 13% would want to have a conversation with a trained professional
  • 6% say they would want to have a conversation about their low feelings with someone they don’t know
  • When asked what factors have triggered men to feel low:
    • 33% said that debt or financial worries have made them feel low or find life difficult
    • Relationship breakdown or family problems (29%)
    • Job loss or job related problems (25%)
    • Physical illness (23%)
    • Bereavement (23%)
  • 32% of men aged 20 to 59 have turned to exercise or physical activity when feeling low
    • 98% of those who turned to exercise found the activity helpful
  • 29% say they’re less likely to take part in their hobbies when they’re finding life tough
  • At the same time, men are often more likely to engage in unhelpful habits while feeling their lowest. A quarter (24%) of men say they’re more likely to drink alcohol, smoke or take drugs whilst feeling low
  • 1% of the men surveyed have called the Samaritans or another helpline whilst feeling low
  • 94% of those who have used a helpline found the experience helpful
  • 28% of the men surveyed have gone to their GP as a result of feeling low
    • 84% said their GP took their problems seriously
    • 76% say they would go to the GP again
    • 77% said their GP had asked the right questions
  • 19% have turned to prescription medication to help alleviate low mood
  • 16% have accessed individual talking therapies, such as talking to a counsellor or therapist, or engaging with Cognitive Behavioural Therapies

The research was picked up by national and regional, print and online press, including MailOnline, Yahoo News, Huffington Post, Campaign Magazine, Daily Record, STV News, and a host of regional news sites such as Newcastle Chronicle, Manchester Evening News, Wales Online, Glasgow Live and more!

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