Alarming numbers around men’s mental health indicate need for national response
A growing body of research indicates that a significant number of men and boys are facing substantial psycho-social difficulties, which manifest in a number of worrying statistics involving mental health, addiction and suicide. To start, males account for more than 75 per cent of suicides in Canada. Similarly, surveys indicate that Canadian men are around three times more likely to experience addiction and substance abuse compared to Canadian women. Highlighting the scale of the problem, the British Columbia Coroners Service reports that males accounted for 81 per cent of drug overdose deaths in that province in 2020.
Evidence suggests that factors such as educational drop-out, unemployment and loneliness are strong determinants of mental health issues, including suicide and substance abuse. Importantly, these risk factors disproportionately affect men and boys. Statistics Canada, for example, notes that one in four boys do not graduate from high school on time, a rate significantly higher than girls. Another study found that nearly 9 per cent of men aged 25 to 34 never graduated from high school, almost double the rate of similarly aged women.
An Angus Reid survey found that 63 per cent of 18- to 34-year-old Canadian men experienced considerable loneliness and isolation, compared to 53 per cent of similarly aged women. Indeed, there are many different modalities of healing, and studies indicate that men tend to prefer more informal action-based or group-based mental health services to formal one-on-one talk therapy. However, these types of informal services are not always available, particularly in smaller communities. A lack of choice or access to mental health services can deter men from reaching out and seeking help, leaving them struggling in silence and alone.
Clearly, all is not well with the mental health of a substantial portion of the Canadian male population, but this problem is typically overlooked by legislators and policymakers. House of Commons launched an inquiry into the mental health of men and boys in 2019, for example, an initiative supported by all major political parties. Given the gravity of the situation, there’s clearly an urgent need to create an analogous parliamentary inquiry here in Canada, with a free and frank discussion on the status of men’s mental health and well-being in our society. This could include a critical examination of policies and programs in education, employment and health care that may be contributing to mental health difficulties.
Recognizing and addressing these issues that are faced by an alarming number of men and boys needs to be a part of national public policy.
Source: Rob Whitley | CBC News