Why don’t men speak up about stress?

67% of men feel overwhelmed by stress at some point each year, yet more than a quarter of men do not seek help for mental health issues. We consider the nation’s rising stress levels and the importance of encouraging men to open up.

In a recent study, the Mental Health Foundation found that 67% of men had felt overwhelmed or unable to cope with their stress at least once in the past year.1

However, the Foundation has also found that 28% of men do not seek help for mental health issues.2

We take a look at some of the common reasons behind stress, the factors that can stop men from speaking up, and the importance of seeking help when you need it.

Stress is on the rise

In the same report that found that 67% of men struggled with stress, the Mental Health Foundation noted that stress is on the rise in the UK.

The report noted various reasons for this stress, acknowledging the wide variety of factors and the individual nature of a person’s stress.

There were, however, three factors of modern life that the report highlighted as important factors in the rise of our stress levels as a nation.

woman hand under blanket being woken by mobile phone

1. Modern technology

Can you imagine life without your smartphone? If the sheer thought of it sends you into a cold sweat you’re not alone – a recent poll found nearly half of those asked just couldn’t imagine being without their smartphone.3

While modern technology does make work easier, it’s not necessarily great for our stress levels as it makes it harder and harder to give ourselves time to relax, and draw away from the pressures of work.

2. Work

One survey by mental health charity MIND found that 15% of us admit to reading work emails on the loo, while 38% check them out of work hours.4

This inability to escape from work pressures is also contributing to rising stress levels, affecting our mental health, which in turn can affect relationships both in the office and outside of it.

3. Money

Whether worrying about a pay rise, household bills or not having enough money to pay for basic needs, 22% of people who reported stress cited money worries as a factor.

If you are worried about money, Citizens Advice may be able to offer advice to help your situation, while a counsellor or therapist can help to manage your stress.

Why don’t men talk about mental health?

If you have a problem with your physical health, you will likely seek professional help. It should be the same with a mental health issue.

However, people are often reluctant to seek help for psychological issues, and this is more true for men than for women.

There is a damaging stigma around asking for help with mental health issues, yet ignoring the problem is likely to make it worse.

In reality, opening up and asking for health can be one of the strongest things you can do.

How can stress affect your life?


Suffering from stress can affect your life and your health in various ways, both physical and mental.

Physical symptoms of stress can include tiredness, headaches and indigestion.

Psychological changes resulting from stress can include anxiety, aggression and low self-esteem.

You may also experience behavioural changes, such as increased smoking or drinking, reckless behaviour and difficulty concentrating.

You are not alone

If you think stress is making you ill, you’re not alone.

In 2018/19, stress, depression and anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related illnesses in the UK and 54% of all working days lost due to ill health.

The total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2018/19 was 602,000.5

How to deal with stress

If you’re feeling stressed by work, the first thing to do is identify the cause. If it’s caused by constantly checking emails, including before bed, then stop.


Instead, allocate time for working and time dedicated to relaxation, when you won’t check your phone.

Dedicating specific evenings when you will do something you enjoy, such as a sport or a hobby, will also help you to resist the temptation to work late. Exercise is a great way to switch off your mind from work and can help you to think more clearly.

Set yourself a challenge, like learning a new language or skill, to give yourself a focus away from work that will make you feel you have accomplished something.

Talking about stress

Men may be less inclined to talk about their emotional state, but talking things through can really help you to put a new perspective on a situation or worry, allowing you to actively deal with your issues.

Talk to friends or family about your feelings if you can or, if you find it easier, speak to a professional who is trained to listen and help you to deal with your situation.

What is counselling?

A counsellor is a professional who can help you to cope with specific problems, improve relationships or develop better ways of living.

They will listen to you and can help you to sort out any issues by giving you their professional opinion.

Counselling is a ‘talking therapy’ and can be your regular time to talk about any troubles you have in a safe and confidential environment. It can help you to understand your behaviour and feelings better.

If you’d like to find out more about how talking to a professional could help you deal with stress or any of life’s twists and turns, contact our specialist Psychiatry team.

To find out more call us on 0808 101 0337

or make an online enquiry.


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