Last year, UBC nursing professor John Oliffe set out to discover how attitudes toward depression differ between men and women.
A national survey of English-speaking adult Canadians, male and female, looked into stigmatized beliefs about depression and suicide. Published in the December 2015 issue of the Community Mental Health Journal, “Stigma in Male Depression and Suicide: A Canadian Sex Comparison Study” reports that men are notably more likely to be embarrassed to seek professional help, just one of the survey’s troubling findings.
The researchers found that the majority of respondents did not stigmatize depression or suicide if being experienced by others.
However, one-third of respondents believed men with depression to be unpredictable.
Also, a large number of respondents, particularly women, viewed men who commit suicide to be socially isolated and disconnected.
Men, meanwhile, were more likely to endorse stigmatized views of depression.
With suicide rates for men three times higher than for women, these findings reiterate the need for mental health programs that specifically aim to reach men.
“While it was reassuring to find that Canadians in general don’t stigmatize male depression or suicide, it was concerning that the men with depression or suicidal thoughts felt a strong stigma around their condition, and many were afraid of being discovered,” Oliffe in a news release.
“Social isolation is one of the biggest risk factors for male suicide,” said co-lead author John Ogrodniczuk, a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. “By reaching out, even with a simple question like ‘how are you doing?’ or offering to do something together, such as taking in a game, we can help reduce the risk of self-harm.”
It’s on us all to fight stigma, whether that means finding help when we need it or supporting those around us–with more than just a “man up,” when they need to hear that the least.