Health Watch: Mens Health: Mind over Matter?

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), February 13, 2002 | Go to article overview

Health Watch: Mens Health: Mind over Matter?


Byline: WILL MARLOW

While very few men develop the severe mental health problems experienced by Brookside's Jimmy Corkhill, stress and depression are growing problems among men.

And it appears ignorance and macho attitudes are preventing them from facing up to problems.

A new book *by Dr Michael Apple and Rowena Gaunt, which offers men a guide to all aspects of their well-being, says that men aren't concerning themselves enough with their mental health.

"It's always been the case that men repress their emotions," says Dr Apple, a practising GP who has a special interest in psychology. "But in a previous world they could still get away with that because other things remained constant - the family, the job, their social standing.

"Now all those things are out the window. Men don't know how long their jobs are going to last or how long their relationships might last. So men have been forced to confront their mental health and mental stability much more."

One problem men face is that they are susceptible to becoming workaholics. This is due to their "mental settings" - their need to perform at peak efficiency and their need to reach their full potential. But at some point this will start to have adverse effects on mental health, eventually leading to burn-out.

"The work and leisure balance has become very skewed," says Apple. "But it's not just because men feel they need to work hard. The work process itself has become relentless.

"When men become burned out they first have to recognise that fact. After that men need to analyse what it is that makes them feel like this. Is it that the job has become dreadful? In which case it's just got to go. Or is it there are aspects of the job which are intolerable but which can be negotiated?"

These days jobs and relationships and even where we live can be transient. When men live a lifestyle that is so susceptible to change, it can cause a great amount of insecurity.

"Men become used to being top dog in one situation, whether in their jobs or another situation," says Apple. …

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