character (4).pngIn the last 25 years, trends for men have changed significantly: men are living longer and healthier lives. Between 1992-1994, the average life expectancy for men was 74 years, and for the 2018-2020 period this had increased to 79 years (Office for National Statistics). Rates for cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality have steadily declined in the UK in recent years, reflecting declining smoking and alcohol consumption rates.

Although it is well known that women tend to live longer than men, it is now largely understood that psychological, social and behavioural factors play a part in these statistics. In other words, the good news is that many of the reasons for health concerns among men are preventable. 

There is lots of help out there if you want to think about keeping healthy, both mentally and physically. ​​​​​​Speak to a member of the Keeping Well in South East London team by opening the chatbox if you'd like some support with how you're feeling at the moment. 


Mental health 

Men are less likely to access psychological support than women: only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men (IAPT).

Women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men, but it is thought that depression in men is underdiagnosed and often missed by health professionals. Depression in men isn’t inherently different from depression in women, but it can manifest differently. Symptoms such as irritability, sudden anger, increased loss of control, risk-taking and aggression are all more common in men than in women, and men are also more likely to drink alchohol and use drugs as a result of their issues. 

If you’re worried about your mental health, have a look at our resources on anxiety and low mood, or chat to a member of our team for further support. 

Making simple changes to help you keep well such as talking about your feelings, keeping active and eating well can also help you to cope with any mental health issues you might be facing.

The Mental Health Foundation has published 15 tips for men to help pick themselves up when things get tough. 

  1. Reach out - chat to a mate when you start to hide yourself away
  2. Be listened to - have a chat and get it off your chest 
  3. Follow social media accounts that you can relate to 
  4. Have a chat with someone who will listen and not ‘fix’ – a mate, colleague, family or a helpline
  5. Keep up with your routine - or add new structure to your day 
  6. Get outside for a short walk  
  7. Make a motivational playlist 
  8. Read a motivational or inspirational quote - to get perspective 
  9. Do something new like volunteering
  10. Take up a new hobby 
  11. Get out of your comfort zone - feel a sense of achievement from this 
  12. Stop and pause – take time to check in with your head by using mindfulness, writing or meditation 
  13. Focus on breathing – breathe in and out slowly for 3 minutes 
  14. Switch off – in a way that works for you, with a book, film, video game etc. 
  15. Ask a mate how they are – doing something for a mate can make you feel better

Three times as many men as women die by suicide, and suicide is the largest cause of death for men under 50. Less well-off middle-aged men in particular are more likely to die by suicide than any other age group (Samaritans).

Some of the risk factors for male suicide include:

  • Prior suicide attempts
  • Mental health issues such as depression (often revealed through irritability, anger or hostility)
  • Relationship problems
  • Social isolation
  • Exposure to bullying
  • A history of problem drink or drug use
  • Physical illness or disability
  • Access to medication or weapons
  • Recent bereavement (family member or a close friend)
  • Losing a friend or family member to suicide

Seeking help can feel more difficult for men, but you’re not alone and it doesn’t make you ‘weak’ to need support. 

If you are in crisis, visit our Urgent help page. Some other helpful resources are below: 

Men's Minds Matter is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the prevention of male suicide by building psychological resilience and emotional strength. They are passionate about reducing suicide rates for men through the development and provision of psychological crisis interventions that prevent suicide.  

The Zero Suicide Alliance is an NHS-hosted charity dedicated to preventing suicide. They provide free suicide awareness training that teaches people how to identify, understand and help someone who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts and have also developed interactive and evidence-based resources to support community and organisational leaders to understand the incidence of suicide in their local area, the factors that contribute to suicide and what others are doing to tackle these issues.

James’ Place work with men who are experiencing a suicidal crisis. They support men in London who have been referred to us by a GP, mental health practitioner or voluntary organisation.

The Listening Place offer face-to-face listening support in London for those who feel life is no longer worth living. Support is provided by trained volunteers to allow those who need it to openly and confidentially discuss, examine and reflect on their situation.

Samaritans: if you need someone to talk to in confidence, Samaritans are available 24 hours a day to offer emotional support to anyone in distress or having suicidal thoughts. They can be contacted on 116 123, or by email, online chat, or letter. 

Men's Minds Matter is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the prevention of male suicide by building psychological resilience and emotional strength. They are passionate about reducing suicide rates for men through the development and provision of psychological crisis interventions that prevent suicide.  

The Stay Alive app is a pocket suicide prevention resource for the UK, packed full of useful information to help you stay safe.

Campaign Against Living Miserably: CALM run a free, confidential and anonymous helpline as well as a webchat service, offering help, advice and information to anyone who is struggling or in crisis.

Men’s Sheds Association: This organisation provides community spaces for men to connect and chat, often over practical activities. The activities are often similar to those of garden sheds, but for groups of men to enjoy together. They help reduce loneliness and isolation, and aim to provide a fun space for men. 

If you’re worried about someone else but don’t know how to raise it, Movember has put together some resources to help you have open chats with the men in your life who might be struggling, including a conversation simulator. 


Physical health 

One important factor that men are more at risk of some health issues is that men are less likely to visit their doctor or a pharmacist than women and they are less likely than women to acknowledge illness or seek help (Men’s Health Forum). Some illnesses, such as prostate cancer and testicular cancer, only affect men, so it's important to have a good understanding of what to look out for.  

NHS research also suggests that, as compared to women, men are more likely to eat unhealthy levels of red meat, processed meat, and salt, and to eat too few fruits and vegetables. Men are also much more likely to smoke more, and to drink more alcohol than women, including to hazardous levels. If you’re looking for some tips to improve your lifestyle, or are struggling with addiction, have a look at our resources on keeping yourself well. 

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men globally, and statistics show that 1 in 8 men in the UK will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Unfortunately only two-thirds of prostate cancer cases are detected early in the UK, but early diagnosis and detection can significantly improve prognosis. When prostate cancer is detected late, the survival rate is just 26%. If caught in time, however, survival rates increase to 98% beyond five years. 

Detecting prostate cancer

Prostate cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms, and signs are often missed in routine check-ups. Nevertheless, some things to watch out for include: 

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs

Prostate cancer can be checked for by a simple routine blood test which checks for levels of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). Men aged 50 and over are advised to get their PSA levels checked regularly. Those with a family history, and men of African or Caribbean descent are particularly at risk, and it is therefore recommended that they have regular check-ups from the age of 45. 

If you are concerned about prostate cancer, your GP will be able to advise you. 

Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer to affect men between the ages of 15 and 49. Younger men are more likely to get testicular cancer. It then becomes less common as men get older. Trans women can also develop testicular cancer if they haven't had an operation to remove their testicles (orchidectomy).

When caught early, testicular cancer is highly treatable and highly curable 

Testicular symptoms to look out for include:

  • a lump or swelling in part of one testicle
  • a testicle that gets bigger
  • a heavy scrotum
  • discomfort or pain in your testicle or scrotum

Movember advise completing a self-check every month or so. This will help you learn how things normally look and feel, making it easier for you to notice any changes. This video provides a guide of how to do this: 

Prostate cancer 

NHS: Prostate cancer

Prostate Cancer UK: The national charity's is a prostate cancer research, awareness and support organisation. You can also phone their specialist nurses on 0800 074 8383. 

Movember: Facts on prostate cancer, including further information on detection and treatment

Testicular cancer 

NHS: Testicular cancer 

Cancer Research UK: Testicular cancer 

Movember's Nuts and Bolts: Webpage with a wealth of information and tools for tackling testicular cancer 


Domestic violence and abuse 

Domestic violence, also called domestic abuse, is any pattern of behaviour that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. It encompasses all physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. Most domestic violence is directed at women, but men can be abused too, in both heterosexual and gay relationships.

Domestic violence against men is more commonplace than is often realised. For every three victims of domestic abuse, two will be female, one will be male. One in four women and one in six to seven men suffer from domestic abuse in their lifetime (ManKind Initiative). 

Admitting to being abused is difficult for anybody, but men may face additional barriers. For example, men often don’t have the social and support networks in place to easily tell a friend or family member. Many men also fear that they won’t be believed or may be seen as weak if they come forward. 

For all victims of abuse, the message is the same:

  • You are not alone.
  • It is not your fault.
  • Help is available.

Please visit our dedicated page for more information, including information on safety and reporting.

Call 999 if in immediate danger

Respect Men’s advice line0808 801 0327 (Monday - Friday 9am - 8pm)

ManKind Initiative's confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence: 01823 334244 (weekdays 10am – 4pm) 


Family

Whilst there is growing awareness about the importance of mothers’ mental health, less is known about fatherhood and the impact fathers can have on their children’s mental health. From pregnancy to adolescence, fathers are a major influence on a child’s emotional and behavioural health. They provide support in the same ways as mothers, such as through sensitive parenting, boundary-setting and creating secure attachments. It's ok to struggle with family issues, and it's ok to seek help when needed.

The mental health of fathers is sometimes overlooked in favour of that of mothers, despite the fact that perinatal mental illness in either parent contributes to adverse child and family outcomes.  

Having a baby is a life-changing experience and this can have a huge impact on your day-to-day life, your relationships and your mental health. It is thought that up to 10% of fathers in the UK might experience post-natal depression, and fathers with perinatal mental health problems are up to 47% more likely to be rated as a suicide risk than at any other time in their lives (Quevedo et al, 2010).

The increased pressures of fatherhood, more financial responsibility, changes in relationships and lifestyle, combined with a lack of sleep and an increased workload at home, may all affect a new dad’s mental wellbeing. Feeling overwhelmed, low in mood and anxious can be common in the first couple of weeks following birth while you adjust to the new change in your life. However, if these emotions persist and potentially worsen, it might be a sign of PND. It's important to note that PND can develop at any time during the first year of giving birth.

Symptoms of post-natal depression

  • feeling sad, tearful and low in mood a lot of the time
  • lacking interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • difficulty bonding with your baby
  • withdrawing from other people and the wider world
  • having frightening and intrusive thoughts, such as harming your baby
  • overeating or undereating for comfort or to regain control
  • feeling unable to talk to your partner or family and friends about how you're feeling

What can I do if I suspect I have PND?

While depression can make you want to withdraw from other people and the outside world, this often makes your depression worse and may increase your sense of helplessness and hopelessness. You don't have to suffer alone or in silence. Treatment for PND can range from talking therapy (visit our page on accessing free psychological therapy via IAPT) to antidepressants, which your GP may be able to prescribe. Looking after yourself by eating a healthy, balanced diet, keeping fit and active (see our Keeping Well pages for inspiration) and maintaining contact with family and friends can help to elevate your mood and enable you to cope better.

Men's experiences of the emotional trauma of miscarriage are often overlooked. In the weeks that follow miscarriage, attention tends to be focused on the mother and the father’s feelings can be overlooked. Nevertheless, miscarriage is a loss for both partners, and you both need time and support. 

Some men feel as though they have to hide or ignore what they’re going through so they can be there for their partner. Your emotions and needs are equally important and valid, whatever they are. There are no right or wrong feelings – everyone reacts individually and you may find that your feelings fluctuate from day to day and even from moment to moment. But you may find some of those feelings difficult to cope with and talk about.

The Miscarriage Association's leaflet about Men and Miscarriage lists some of the emotions you might experience:

  • Shock: at the turn of events, especially if there were no signs that anything was wrong
  • Anger: at medical staff for not preventing it happening; at the unfairness of it all
  • Grief: a strong and perhaps unexpected sense of loss and bereavement
  • Isolation: loneliness, especially if your partner seems to be shutting you out, or if others don’t seem to understand how you feel
  • Guilt and failure: for what happened; for your partner’s emotional and physical trauma; perhaps for not being there when it happened
  • Relief: after a period of uncertainty; or at the end of a pregnancy that you didn’t want
  • Helplessness and frustration: at your lack of control over events
  • Loss of concentration: feeling overwhelmed by events and emotions
  • Lack or loss of interest in sex: you may associate sex with the physical aspects of miscarriage; or be worried about when it is safe to resume
  • Anxiety: about your partner’s emotional and physical state; about your relationship; about a future pregnancy
  • Impatience: the urge to get back to normal; and to try for another pregnancy

Although it might be difficult to do so, it's important to talk to people you trust about what's happened to help you come to terms with it. It sometimes helps to find support groups so that you can talk to others who can understand what you're going through. You might also want to tell your employer what's happened so that you can take some time off work.

NHS: Postnatal depression

NCT: Postnatal depression in dads: 10 things you should know

The Miscarriage Association: Men and Miscarriage 

Family Man: Movember have included resources, videos, and a parenting toolkit on this site to get more men actively involved in parenting programs. 


Self-assessment tools

If you are unsure about needing further support, you might want to complete the self-assessment tools to find out more about your symptoms.