Men are Less likely to Seek Psychotherapy or Counselling than Women

Men are More Reluctant to Seek Psychotherapy and Counselling help than Women

In a recent article published in the BACP’s monthly magazine, ‘Therapy today’, Colin Penning writes, “Many people think men’s emotional literacy and ability to articulate their feelings is less than that of women. The question then is, do these assumptions about men reflect a stereotype or a reality? This was the question that Relate and the Men’s Health Forum set out to explore in their new report Try to See it My Way.

We know that men are more reluctant than women to seek support and advice when relationships run into difficulties. Far fewer men use telephone advice and helpline services. We also know that men are less likely to access counselling services generally. Men make up just 36 per cent of referrals to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme. They are also under-represented in relationship support services: just 44 per cent of Relate’s clients are men.

So why can’t (or won’t) men seek help for emotional problems? The first and most obvious answer is that men are socialised not to admit to vulnerability, which is a prerequisite of securing help. The second is that maybe we aren’t offering the kind of support that men can relate to and that they find helpful.

The report suggests work is a key factor. Men’s tendency to work longer hours can cause relationship problems and conflicts around the life–work balance; financial difficulties can increase pressure on the man, who is often still the primary breadwinner in the family.

One of the key findings of the report is that men and women have very different approaches to communication. Insights generated by two focus groups of Relate counsellors found that men have a tendency to want to ‘solve problems’ while women want to discuss change and understand why things have happened. So men are coming to counselling with unrealistic expectations.

But the Relate counsellors told us that men may have become more open to the idea of relationship counselling in recent years. And they told us there may be things we can do to reach out to and engage men in taking better care of their own emotional health.

Our report makes a series of recommendations. Some are to national Government around raising men’s awareness of the importance of emotional health and making personal, social and health education a statutory requirement in schools. ”

Admitting to finding things difficult and seeking help is not a weakness. The therapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice have many years experience working through issues presented by male patients in order to discover what lies at the root of their difficulties.

The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice is found at 121 Harley Street, London.

Samaritans Research Supports Growing Concerns about Older Male Suicide

Psychotherapy and Counselling can Help Older Men Struggling with Suicidal Thoughts

In an article in The Telegraph today concerned with the levels of male suicide, their Social Affairs Editor, John Bingham, writes the following:

‘Family breakdown, improved rights for women and the collapse of traditional male-dominated industries have combined to create a crisis of “masculine identity”, a panel of psychologists, economists and social scientists concluded.

Together with male traits such as an unwillingness to talk about personal problems and heavier use of drink and drugs, it means they are now at far greater risk of suicidal tendencies than anyone else, the study commissioned by the Samaritans found.

Men aged between 35 and 55 are more than four times as likely to take their own lives as women of the same age, and more than twice as likely as younger men, according to official figures.

And middle aged men from poor areas are up to 10 times more likely to commit suicide than other groups of people.

The report argues that the pressure to live up to a “gold standard” of masculinity – involving providing for the family – can turn personal troubles such as losing a job into a crisis in a way that it might not for women.

The sense of suffering “defeat as a man” can be more acute in middle age, when the responsibilities are greatest, it adds.

Meanwhile major changes in the economy in recent decades, with a shift away from manufacturing, has removed a source of male “pride, identity and companionship”.

At the same time, higher rates of marital breakdown, the rise of single-parent households mean that men are significantly less likely to have emotional support than in the past.

Perhaps most significantly, it found that, rapid social change has left middle aged men as a “buffer generation”, caught between the “stiff-upper lip” approach of the previous generation and the very different lives of younger people.

Prof Rory O’Connor, of Stirling University, said that the focus had shifted over recent decades from younger men being more at risk of suicide to middle aged men – suggesting that there may be characteristics unique to the current generation.

“Men currently in their midyears are the ‘buffer’ generation – caught between their traditional silent, strong and austere fathers, who went to work and provided for their families, and the more progressive, open and individualistic generation of their sons,” the report says.

“They do not know which of these two very different ways of life and masculine culture they should follow.”

In addition, men who attempt suicide are more likely than women to succeed in taking their life, in part because a higher pain threshold, it notes.

They are also more likely than women to indulge in “impulsive” and “risky” behaviour, including heavy drinking and drug taking, if depressed.

Clare Wyllie, head of policy and research at The Samaritans, said: “We are looking at a particular generation of men who were brought up at a particular time.

“They grew up with fathers who were austere, silent and traditional, they grew up with this expectation that they were going to be the head of the household, that they were going to be the breadwinners, that they were going to be respected by their wives and families.

“But what has happened is that social relations and work has changed, their identities, work and relationships have been blown apart by social change.

The risk factors for suicide are well established, these people are experiencing multiple risk factors all at once.”

Prof O’Connor added: “They had fathers as role models and they didn’t talk about their emotions and that was OK.

“But then they look behind them and young people are really comfortable talking about their emotions.” ‘

Depression and subsequent suicidal thoughts are not uncommon. Recognising these thoughts and feelings and seeking help are important steps to intervene in a possible downward spiral. The professional psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice on London’s Harley Street are experienced in working with clients struggling with painful and frightening thoughts and will work with you to understand what lies behind them and help you bear what seems unbearable.


Overtime Linked to Depression

Working Long Hours can Affect Mental Health

A study by researchers from Queen Mary’s College and University College of The University of London, Bristol University, McGill University in Canada and The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health examined the working habits of over 2000 UK civil servants to see whether these contributed to the development of depressive conditions. The subjects were followed for six years.

The focus was on whether overtime significantly affected the mental health of the subjects that were followed. It was found that those who worked on average an 11 hour day as opposed to colleagues who stuck to a standard 7-8 hour day were associated with a 2.5 times increase of probability of suffering a major depressive episode.

However, although this study demonstrates a link between increased work hours and the chance of suffering a major depressive episode, it had not yet been demonstrated whether the overtime alone causes depression. There are still other factors to be investigated.

The current ecconomic climate and fears asociated with loosing ones job can force people to put in longer and longer work hours, apparently to the detriment of their mental, as well as physical health.

Pursuing a course of psychotherapy can help explore these work related fears and how they may have knock on effects in other areas, such as relationships and family life. Challenging anxieties can lead to a healthier way of being and thereby ward off potential depression.

The psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice on London’s Harley Street have worked with people suffering from anxiety and depression for many years, offering a safe, confidential and professional space in which to explore your difficulties.

Depression Amongst Sportsmen Suggests More Recourse to Psychotherapy

A Growing Awareness of Sportsmen Struggling with Depression Suggests a Greater Need for Psychotherapy

In a documentary on the BBC last week, ‘The Hidden Side of Sport’, England cricketer Freddie Flintoff explored the depression suffered by high performing sportsmen and why, until recently, little was knows as to the extent of depression suffered amongst this demographic.

We were told that statistically, 1 in 10 sportsmen suffer depression whilst there are more suicides amongst cricketers than in any other sport.

Flintoff described experiencing “unbelievable highs and dramatic lows” during his cricketing career but often asked himself, “What’s wrong with me”, when everything seemed to be going so well, and yet he still felt low. He was winning and yet he still felt depressed.

He put on a show and gave a front of confidence that he did not feel, so that everyone on the outside thought everything was alright, until things started unravelling in 2006-2007.

“I didn’t want anyone thinking there was anything to be got at. I didn’t want people knowing I wasn’t that confident person”, “I was seen as this character who was unflappable”, so he hid behind a “happy go lucky” character.

However, he simply could not escape his feelings and drank in order to find another way of coping with how he felt, but this just exacerbated things. He said he was, “drinking to escape, change how I felt”, but depression was still there and the come down from the drinking and the behaviour during it caused him embarassment and shame; he mentioned how he felt the “disapointment people had in me”.

His fellow team player, Steve Harmison described how he felt that playing sport, throwing himself into it was an escape from his feelings, however eventually this way of avoiding what was going on for him ceased to work as he experienced hyperventiltion and panic attacks. He also mentioned that he didn’t know why he felt that way.

Boxers Barry McGuigan and Ricky Hatton also suffered from depression. They both described how all boxers doubt their ability in the ring and yet they are unable to express their fears. “Never show fear. Never show intimidation” said McGuigan.

Hatton descrided how he thought his depression was triggered by boxing. He had such a pride in boxing and in himself as a boxer, then he started to loose and he had to come to terms with that and the end of his career. The loss of his itentity as a boxer seems to have contributed to his depression.

Hatton too, as with Flintoff, turned to drink to try and resolve his feelings with similar results. He said, “Suffering from depression then add drink to it, its like a  runaway train”. Hatton tried to deal with his problems by himself, in secret, however, Barry McGuigan had a close family to whom he turned. He said that other boxers did not have this and did not wish to seek help from a counsellor or psychotherapist. Hatton backed this up by stating, it is “very very hard for a man to go to someone and say “I need help”. It’s tough”.

Vinnie Jones, another man seen to have been successful in life, described how he came very close to suicide with depression. He said, “You feel so degraded in yourself. Every bit of pride was taken out of me. Why are these people putting up with me?”. He went on to say that there was no one to turn to within sport and that depression was ignored as it was, “taken as a weakness”. Jones was fearful of how admitting to depression would affect those around him and their opinions of him.

In an interview with Piers Morgan, the ex editor described his feelings at the time towards the depression suffered by sportsmen. He thought that a person could not be depressed if they have wealth and fame. It was impossible and, “You know what, get over it…”.

It seems that his attitude was that lucky and talented people have no entitlement to depression. Fortunately, Morgan’s attitude has since changed. Matthew Syed backed this up by saying that in his opinion people assume that if you have money and fame etc then you are in a “psychological nirvna”.  However, it is the fear of this attitude in others that often stops men seeking help for depression in the form of talking therapy, such as psychotherapy or counselling. Dr. Steve Bull, a cricket team psychologist said that attitudes to depression amongst sportsmen are changing but he acknowledged that, as 10% of the population in any given year are liable to experience some form of anxiety and depression, more attention should be given to the mind as well as the body.

He too seems to support Hatton’s feelings that sportsmen are obsessed with what they do, that there is a personal identity with their sport and that it is alright when things are going well but terrible when not. However, he did not think that sport caused depression, seeming to imply that it is more the feelings about the sport and the level of participation in that activity. This could be applied to many activities.

Dr. Bull also thought that there is a greater awareness of depression in sport because of the publicity, not that this is a new phenomenon.

The above experiences of high functioning sportsmen can be applied to the experiences of many men in every walk of life. Even if life seems to tick all the positive boxes, there may still be inexplicable feelings of depression.

Identifying with one’s work so that failure is not an option can be similar to how sportmen identify with their sport. Pressure to succeed in work or private life  can add to a sense of being unable to cope. Fear of others attitudes towards depression may prevent men seeking help, such as committing to a course of psychotherapy. Fears of weakness, of social exclusion or feelings of shame may all contribute to not seeking help and support but suffering alone and ultimately may lead to self destructive behaviour, such as drinking (as with Hatton and Flintoff) or drugs. However, as Flintoff said, to “talk about my feelings was good to do”.

“Disappointments as a player I’ve tried to forget, bury my head in the sand a bit. But confronting some things, I think has helped me tackle some of my insecurities head on”.

“I think moving forward I can let go a little bit. I don’t want to have to pretend to be what I’m not. Nor do I want to play up to what everyone wants from me. I think its just time to be myself”.

The therapists at The London Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice provide a confidential therapeutic environment in which to discuss and explore difficult feeings. They provide non judgemental, open minded, professional support.

The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice is based at 121 Harley Street, London.

Mental Health Disorders Increase in the EU but not Enough Sufferers Recieve Psychotherapy Help

More Psychotherapy is Needed in the EU

A study performed by The European Collage of Neuropsychopharmacology has revealed that 164 million people in the EU have had a mental disorder. This equates to 38% of the population and yet only a third of these have any contact with a health professional, and only 8-10% have seen a specialist.

At the top of the list of psychological and neurological problems that were investigated are anxiety disorders with 14% suffering from one or more. Depression and insomnia were also high up.

Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, one of the researchers, expands upon the figurative findings by describing a gender difference within the experience of anxiety. Whereas men become more alcohol dependent, women suffer more from depression.

The optimum age for women to be hit with depression seems to be between 16 – 42 and is thought to be linked with the increased social pressures they are feeling. Marriage, children, holding down a job and a social life all contribute to the doubling of depressive episodes amongst women since the 70’s. The increase in cases of divorce also contributes to women feeling they are not coping well or caring sufficiently for their children. Wittchen also added that marriage is bad for women but good for men.

The diagnosis time for the onset of mental health disorders is also becoming earlier. The first diagnosis of a disorder is now in a person’s teens, 90% at 18 years, whereas it used to be in a persons 20’s. Encouragingly, Wittchen claims that most disorders diagnosed early can be treated well, mostly with psychotherapy or counselling, sometimes with the help of medication. However, he also says that psychological disorders are woefully underfunded in the EU and that people are suffering as a result.

Psychotherapy and counselling is an important step in taking control of feelings of depression and anxiety by exploring the roots of these issues. The professional psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice in London can help with this exploration and work with you to help spot patterns of behaviour and thinking that may perpetuate low feelings and hamper healthy mental development.

Alpha Male Depression and Suicide

The Alpha male affected by depression will often hide his symptoms, fearing that they will appear ‘weak’ by their colleagues, families and friends. The need to remain at the top of the pile is so ingrained in the Alpha male, that to look for help is shaming. The recent suicide of Gary Speed, hugely successful player turned manager, came as an enormous shock to his family, friends and football fans. Only the evening before his death, he appeared on national television, apparently relaxed, focused and in control. Hours later he hanged himself. If we are to learn anything from this tragic suicide, it is that men have an enormous capacity not to express, or share, their vulnerabilities but instead are often  able to hide overwhelming feelings behind a veneer of joviality and success.

Sadness and low mood are not the only indicators of depression and, to the untrained eye, depression is not always easy to spot, especially among men. Classic symptoms of male depression include anger, irritability and excessive risk taking with sex, alcohol, drugs, work or dangerous sports. At worst, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and feelings – 80% of suicides are related to depression. Suicidal thoughts and feelings should be an indicator that help is needed, immediately. Psychotherapy and counselling can be a helpful deterrent to suicide, often in combination with medication.

Entering  counselling or psychotherapy can help the depressed man discover the roots of his depression and offer an outlet for expressing the feelings that are so hard to share with others. In psychotherapy and counselling at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice, no one is judged. The individual will be heard with empathy, intelligence and discretion. At The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice, the counsellors/psychotherapists work closely with Harley Street General Practitioners and Psychiatrists so can refer, within the same day, for medication, where appropriate.

Getting help for your depression through psychotherapy and counselling can make a huge difference in your life.

Tragic Loss Sheds Light on a Need for Psychotherapy and Counselling as an Intervention

Psychotherapy and Counselling can be a Vital Intervention when Life Feels Overwhelming

The recent tragic suicide of the footballer and former Wales manager, Gary Speed highlights again the growing problem of hidden depression, particularly amongst men.

Although it is not yet known whether Mr. Speed suffered from depression, it seems hard to imagine that he was not suffering from some form of mental stress for him to have taken such a course of action. This thinking is supported by the PFA who have reissued a booklet offering advice and support regarding depression to 50,000 former players. This booklet was initially issued after the deaths of footballers Dale Roberts and Robert Enke.

The over riding reaction to the news of Mr. Speed’s passing from the people who knew him seems to be that of complete shock that there was anything wrong that could have lead to him taking his own life, in fact, quite the opposite. He is reported to have given no signs of what he was thinking and was planning his future career.

Men have traditionally found it hard to seek help from others when the issue is one of mental health, made all the more difficult when working in a male dominated environment. Talking of stress, anxiety and fears may be perceived as being weak and consequently not being up to the job.

Clarke Carlisle, The Burnley defender, believes that the fear of being ‘outed’ by the media causes players to bury their feelings of depression and not address them. He said, ‘Unsurprisingly players known for physical fitness rarely talk about mental distress. Indeed many may not recognise what it is to know or how to seek help for stress, anxiety or depression when it strikes”.

This attitude towards mental distress seems to be repeated throughout many different and varied work places where sufferers feel they cannot turn to their family and friends and either do not know or feel unable to seek help and support from professionals such as psychotherapists or counsellors.

However, working with a professional psychotherapist or counsellor gives the opportunity to explore emotional issues that are being battled with. They can offer a safe, confidential, non judgemental environment, separate from the other areas of life. Seeking support from a psychotherapist or counsellor is an important step forward in looking at and learning to cope with emotional difficulties before they feel overwhelming and hopeless.

The Psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice at 121 Harley Street, London, have many years experience successfully working with mental stress and depression.

Psychotherapy for Professional’s Hidden Addictions

As Professional’s Struggle with Hidden Addiction, Psychotherapy is an Important Step Forward

At an international conference in Ireland this weekend, attention was drawn to the increasing problem of alcohol and substance abuse amongst professionals, particularly those in health care. These professionals function at very high levels which often belies the fact that they are resorting to addictive behaviour to maintain this high functioning.

Research has suggested that 15-24% of lawyers suffer from alcoholism at some time during their career, whilst the BMA (British Medical Association) estimates that one in fifteen health care professionals develop an addiction problem whilst doctors are three times more likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver due to drinking than the general population.

This worrying progression came to light partly due to the increase in ‘rehab tourism’, the process of professionals seeking help abroad for their addictions in order to keep others around them from finding out.

One spokes person from a substance abuse clinic in Thailand stated, “We are seeing a lot of professionals coming in, particularly from London. In Britain absolutely there is a silent mass of professionals who are functioning, in terms of that they haven’t lost everything, but they are in workplaces where you really wouldn’t want them to be”.

The stigma still attached to addiction and the shame felt by the sufferers often prevents them taking action to deal with their difficulties, such as consulting their GP or seeing a psychotherapist or counsellor.

In an interview in The Observer, Rory O’Conner, the UK co-ordinator of health support programs for dentists and veterinary surgeons said , “Health professionals are generally not good at seeking help for themselves, mainly because they see it very much as their role to help others. There is also immense shame, a stigma still attached to a perceived weakness like addiction”.

The reasons for the increase in addiction amongst this group can be varied. There could be a drinking or drugs culture within the working environment that is overlooked by the organisation. The stress of the job itself may cause a person to turn to substances to help them cope. This can be exacerbated if the sufferer feels unable to turn to their peers or family for help due to shame, being seen as weak or fearing the security of their job.

Seeking help from a psychotherapist or counsellor is an important step towards dealing with addiction. The psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice have successfully worked with professionals suffering from addiction. They provide a safe and confidential space in which to explore what lies behind the addictive behaviour and offer non judgemental support and insight.

The three psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice work from their Clinic at 121, Harley Street, London.

Stress in The City: London Psychotherapy Clinic The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice Sees Numbers of City Workers Seeking Therapy Rise

Psychotherapy Can Help with Work Stress

The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice on Harley Street, Central London, has seen a marked increase in the numbers of city workers coming to therapy. “More than ever we’re seeing clients whose stress levels are becoming intolerable. When stress becomes intolerable, individuals are likely to seek escape – into drugs, alcohol or sex, in turn this can escalate into addiction” says Rebecca Barrie, Psychotherapist at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice.

Finance workers who scraped through the credit crunch of a few years ago are hitting another malestrom with the Eurozone crisis, provoking a second round of panic and potential redundancies. It maybe true that the volatility of the markets attracts a volatile workforce; those happy to take high risks both professionally and personally. It is when this risk taking goes wrong or becomes out of hand that finance workers seem to seek out help.

Psychotherapy and counselling for stress can be of enormous benefit to city workers. Talking through difficult feelings and problems with a non-judgemental psychotherapist or counsellor can help alleviate stress, get to the root cause of the difficulties and find a clearer and healthier way forward.

The therapists/counsellors at the Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice are highly qualified, experienced and discreet. The practice works with the individual to understand difficult feelings and behaviours, including use of drugs, alcohol and sex. Last year the Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice set up a Stress Counselling Clinic, offering individuals a series of six sessions to target stress and stress related issues. The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice is on Harley Street. email: or call: 0207 371.3940

Different Genders, Different Reaction to Anxiety

Psychotherapy is an Effective Treatment for Anxiety in Both Genders

In a study looking into the prevalence by gender of different types of common mental illnesses and published in the America Psychological Association’s Journal of Abnormal Psychology, researchers found that women with anxiety disorders are more likely to internalise their emotions, which typically results in, “withdrawal, loneliness and depression”. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to externalise their emotions. This can lead to “aggressive, impulsive, coercive and noncompliant behaviour”. With this study the researchers were able to demonstrate that the difference in the way men and women internalise and externalise their reactions to difficult, anxiety provoking situations can account for gender differences in prevalence rates of many mental disorders.

The research took into account age and ethnicity as well as gender.

Lead author Nicholas R. Eaton, MA, of the University of Minnesota said that women may suffer depression more than men because they “ruminate more frequently than men, focusing repetitively on their negative emotions and problems rather than engaging in more active problem solving”.

Research has also indicated that women report more stressful life events before the onset of a disorder than men do, indicating that environmental stressors may also contribute to women’s internalising of their difficulties.

Exploring triggers that can lead to externalising or internalising behaviour patterns with a professional psychotherapist is an important step in understanding anxiety and preventing the development of more clinically significant depression.

The psychotherapists at The Cavendish Psychotherapy Practice on Harley Street in Central London, can help with this exploration and have many years of experience working with anxiety and depression.