My Degree research project asked the question:
“What can counsellors learn from research about the way men present and cope with emotional distress which will help in clinical practice?”
Background: Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression but men are more likely to commit suicide, suggesting that men experience depression but display it differently. Men are half as likely to go for counselling, implying their distress is often ‘hidden’, so the aim of this review was to assess how men express their distress differently and to explore practical ways that counsellors could work more effectively with male clients.
Method: An online search of counselling, psychology and sociology databases was conducted to obtain research articles about male distress, published in English within the last 10 years. 4 qualitative studies and 2 literature reviews were chosen, with 3 focused on male depression.
Results: Social expectations about masculinity mean that men often express depression as anger rather than distress and use avoidant coping strategies. Men’s mental health problems are under-diagnosed and many are reluctant to seek psychological help because of internalised beliefs about what it means to be a man.
Conclusions: Counsellors could encourage more men to seek support by providing more information about the process, using words and images that men find acceptable, and using counselling methods which help men to feel in control and work interactively.