Today, Time to Change, will kick-off a five year campaign to encourage men to be in their mate’s corner and be more open and supportive of the 1 in 4 of us fighting a mental health problem in any given year.
While there has been a positive step change in the way mental health is viewed and talked about in England, with 3.4 million people having improved attitudes, our research shows a persistent gap between the attitudes of men and women, with men consistently showing less favourable attitudes.
Time to Change, the mental health campaign run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, carried out research into men’s attitudes towards mental health over the course of a year, which included feedback from 18 focus groups across the country. This new insight revealed a number of barriers preventing men in particular from opening up to the topic of mental health.
Compared to women, men are:
- Less knowledgeable about mental health, with more negative attitudes
- Far less likely to report their own experiences of mental health problems and less likely to discuss mental health problems with a professional
- More likely to say that mental health problems are the result of a ‘lack of self-discipline and willpower’
- Three times more likely to take their own lives than women, with suicide being the leading cause of death in men under 45
To reach men, Time to Change will launch the campaign with a short, high-impact film featuring three heroic ‘corner men’; regular guys who are in a mate’s corner when he really needs them.
Matthew Williams, 42, from Middlesbrough has depression. He credits his two close friends for being there when he was struggling with his mental health:
“I’m very lucky to have two lifelong friends who have been a huge support to me when I was ill. I’ve always talked to Craig about everything. Simon, whilst we had never really talked a great deal about personal things, showed me he cared in other ways, by getting me out the house regularly to play darts, giving me a short break from everything that was going on in my head.
“Having depression can be incredibly isolating but knowing that Craig and Simon are in my corner makes me feel like I’m not fighting it on my own.”
Matthew’s friend, Craig Wood, 42, from Durham said:
“Here was my mate who I thought I knew as well as anyone, the life and soul, the one with the all the wisecracks, the one with the gift of the gab, and he could hardly speak, never mind describe how he was feeling. I was shocked and tried my best to say the right things.
“Spending time with Matty – going for a coffee or a drink, letting him talk and get things off his chest helped. When he was at rock bottom, I pointed out all the positive things he brought to the world, to his family, to me, to work. I realise depression is something he has to manage, and one day it could come back. If it does I’ll be there. My biggest piece of advice? Taking the time to listen, just being there for your mate and showing you care, can make all the difference.”
Time to Change is now urging men to recognise how their attitudes and behaviours can influence others’ experiences of mental health problems – and that being in a friend’s corner can make all the difference. The campaign is relevant to everyone – men, women and young people – and shows straightforward ways that anyone can be there for someone.
There are three steps people can take if they think a friend is struggling:
- Text, call, reach out to your mate
2. Ask how they are, listen without judging
3. Be yourself, do everyday things.
As well as taking steps to be there for a friend, everyone is being encouraged to share the new film. To find out more information about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit: www.time-to-change.org.uk/inyourcorner.
Other research on men and mental health which backs up the new campaign has shown that only a third of men (34%) would talk openly about their feelings, and one in five (18%) admitted they saw others showing emotions as a sign of weakness. Worryingly, 31% of men said that they would be embarrassed about seeking help for a mental health problem.
Jo Loughran, Director of Operations at Time to Change, said:
“Our research clearly shows that mental health problems are just not on the radar for men. However, we also know that men feel strongly about brotherhood and friendship and can play a vital role in looking out for their friends’ mental health and wellbeing.
“We want to show that being in your friend’s corner doesn’t have to be difficult or awkward. Breaking the cycle of men feeling unable to reach out has never been more urgent. We need to help men realise they can make a real difference, even change someone’s life.”
Time to Change will be following up with a similar campaign aimed at young people and their parents in March.
 Goldberg, D. & Huxley, P. 1992, Common mental disorders a bio-social model, Routledge.
 ‘Our impact’ Time to Change: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/about-us/our-impact
 Public knowledge, attitudes, social distance and reported contact regarding people with mental illness 2009-2015, Henderson et al. Page 30 fig. 5)
 Time to Change, ‘Changing the way we all think and act about mental health’, 2016-2021
 (ONS, NISRA, GRO 2014)
 Mind’s Anxiety poll, 2015. Populus online interviews with 2,063 GB adults.