A new campaign from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) aims to give a better understanding of male depression and highlight the benefits of therapy
To address ever-growing concerns around men’s mental health, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has launched an innovative campaign called R.A.I.S.E. as part of Men’s Health Awareness Month.
R.A.I.S.E. is designed to help men, and their loved ones, recognise often subtle signs of depression. It also aims to promote the benefits of seeking professional support from a therapist.
Rise in depression in men
Recent data from a BACP survey of over 3,000 therapists has revealed that 52% of practitioners witnessed a surge in men seeking help for depression over the past year. Yet, the survey also highlighted a concerning statistic: 56% of therapists agreed that men are less likely to seek mental health support than women. A reluctance to seek help may be down to stigma and old-fashioned bravado among those of us who don’t want to admit to needing support when it comes to mental health issues.
“Depression in men often gets overlooked, as men tend to live with their struggles silently,” says Anthony Davis, a BACP therapist and contributor to the R.A.I.S.E. campaign. “Their symptoms can also manifest in different ways than their loved ones would expect, meaning they can sometimes go unnoticed or unaddressed.”
For Dan Reid, a 37-year-old youth worker from Shropshire, a battle against anxiety and depression stems from his university days. But after the birth of his daughter in 2016, his mental health issues worsened, leading to a work breakdown and two months’ leave. Therapy from a BACP-registered professional, however, transformed his life, enabling emotional control and self-worth.
“It can be hard to have an open and honest conversation with someone who is emotionally invested, like a family member or partner,” says Dan. “That’s why I think therapy works and why it worked so well for me. A lot of men are scared to go to therapy and open up, but taking that step can change a life.”
Dan now runs the Men Walking and Talking group, promoting therapy’s benefits and providing a space for men to share their struggles.
Spot the signs
Symptoms of depression can manifest differently in men. Indeed, half of the therapists in the survey noted that men can exhibit less common signs of depression, making it challenging to identify their struggles.
Andy Middle, a 44-year-old military veteran from Shrewsbury, faced depression from his service in Bosnia at 18. Traumatic experiences affected him, but limited support for service members made seeking help challenging.
Thankfully, after acting upon the symptoms and having a confirmed diagnosis of depression, Andy began to work with a psychotherapist to manage PTSD and depression. Now a chef, he finds solace in fishing, and acting as a leader in the Men Walking and Talking group.
To bridge the mental health gap and help men spot the signs of mental ill-health, BACP has introduced the R.A.I.S.E. apronym, which highlights key indicators of male depression:
Men often engage in riskier behaviour when dealing with depression, seeking an adrenaline rush to escape their emotional turmoil.
Outbursts of anger, irritability, and hostility can be telltale signs of depression in men.
Men may withdraw from social interactions, isolating themselves as they grapple with depression.
Self-medicating through alcohol or drug use is a common coping mechanism among men experiencing depression.
Persistent fatigue and a lack of energy are hallmark signs of male depression.
To further support and empower men in their journey to seek professional help, BACP therapists have contributed to an online booklet (bacp.co.uk/raise). This resource delves into the nuances of depression symptoms, explores how they manifest, and offers practical tips on managing them – including how to find a therapist from a PSA accredited register, such as BACP’s.