Here at Influence Digital, we work with several mental health-focused clients, which has given us a solid understanding of how to navigate the mental health landscape.
Recently, we decided to look deeper, specifically into men’s mental health. As we know, men and women struggle with mental health illnesses differently; in the UK, male suicide statistics are almost three times that of females, and men are less likely to seek therapy or open up about their troubling emotions.
We surveyed 100 men across the UK, looking to understand their views on mental health and what barriers to seeking support still exist.
Here are our top 5 insights:
1) Stigma Creates Silence
The men we surveyed worry that society and their peers would look down on them if they opened up about their mental health. A quarter (25%) of all respondents would be more motivated to do so if society encouraged men to speak about their struggles. A third of respondents (33%) said they feared appearing weak, and 32% of respondents expressed a fear of judgement.
2) Can Not Knowing What to Say Be Holding Men Back?
Just under half of our respondents (46%) cited difficulty expressing emotions as one of the main obstacles to opening up. Our desk research has also found that men are less emotionally literate than women, and more frequently struggle to recognise their emotions and feelings. Men are also more likely to visit a doctor to report a physical ailment brought on by their mental suffering, than the mental health suffering itself (Men’s Health Forum).
3) Start by Asking, “How Are You?”
Asking a simple but sincere question could help encourage a more open attitude. A quarter of our respondents (25%) said they would be motivated to open up about their feelings and emotions if asked how they were by a trusted friend.
4) A Push for Long-Form Educational Content
Podcasts, how-to guides and news articles are the respondents’ preferred mediums when learning about mental health. Short-form content, such as Instagram Reels and TikToks, polled far lower, indicating that the respondents absorb information better when packaged in a longer-form.
5) Statistics Are a Powerful Messaging Tool
“70% of adults have experienced a mental health problem- you are not alone” performed best out of 20 messaging lines respondents could choose between in our survey, and ads featuring lines with numbers and statistics polled much higher than those without. Real data appeals more to male audiences than just optimistic and encouraging copy.
Recommendations Based on Our Findings
These results recognise societal stigma, lack of emotional literacy and fear of judgement as key barriers for men to open up about their feelings. By testing our bespoke research with existing research, we can see that the conclusions drawn are synonymous across more western countries.
To overcome barriers, it’s beneficial to offer men content formats they find interesting, such as podcasts, news articles, or using statistics in messaging. Similarly, statistics are a powerful tool to build awareness that others are struggling and experiencing the same feelings. Seeing this, one can feel less lonely in their struggles and more willing to accept support.
Society-wide changes and initiatives are needed to change the landscape of men’s mental health.
Campaigns and public awareness campaigns must tap into various cultural and social touchpoints to be effective. A movement happens when a large enough voice speaks out; change happens when that message is heard and inspires affirmative action so that those in positions of social or cultural power are held to account.
Are you launching a mental health campaign aimed at men? These insights can help guide your strategy, so that it has the most impact.
We also offer services from market research and social listening to fully-fledged campaign and implementation strategies. Need help with your strategy project? Get in touch.