Man on phone

"Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness. It shows that you believe in yourself and want more from life."

Even after a whole year of COVID-19, we are still facing waves of uncertainty, solitude, and anxiety. We’ve heard many things about how the pandemic has affected the mental health of the general public, but what effect has the pandemic had on men’s mental health?

The founder of HeadsUpGuys, Dr. John Ogrodniczuk, led a study entitled, “Psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional study of online help-seeking Canadian men”. Involving 434 Canadian men, the survey tackled topics such as depression, substance abuse, sex, and suicide. 

The study findings go a long way toward showing the broad impacts of the pandemic on men’s mental health and shine a spotlight on different areas of men’s lives that need support.

Key Findings:

Mental Health 

  • 79.3% of the respondents indicated that their mental health was negatively affected by COVID-19.

With unemployment, social isolation, and fear for safety being ever-present, the psychological impacts of the pandemic can’t be ignored. Compounding the effects of these factors is the persistent stigma that surrounds mental health difficulties, which can impede men’s efforts to reach out for help.

While it’s pretty common to feel alone in one’s experience of mental health difficulties, the findings from this study clearly illustrate how wide-spead such difficulties are. If you’re struggling, you’re definitely not alone, so don’t delay in reaching out for a hand.

Getting mental health support during COVID-19.

  • 42.2% of the respondents indicated experiencing suicidal ideation.

COVID-19 has revealed the devastating effects of unmitigated fear, anxiety, stress, and depression. Left unchecked, these mental health challenges can leave a person feeling as if death is the only escape from their pain.  With continued uncertainty about the end to the pandemic, many may feel as though there is no hope, resulting in thoughts of suicide. 

This finding underscores the importance of reaching out before things feel out of hand – you’re not alone, and help is available. If you or someone you know is at risk of harming themselves, call a crisis hotline for immediate support.

How to call a crisis hotline.

Remember, it is brave to reach out for help. It can be difficult, but you can overcome this.

Domestic Life

  • Nearly a third of respondents (31.1%) reported that their current living situation has had a considerable or severe negative impact on their mental health since COVID-19. 

Balancing your work, social, and personal life all in one confined space is no easy task, especially if home isn’t somewhere you feel safe. To help reduce stress, try modifying your routine to add variability to your day and lessen stress at home.

Tips on managing mental health while working at home.

  • Half of the men (51.2%) reported at least moderate financial stress due to COVID-19. 

Whether you’ve lost your job, are trying to keep your business afloat, or are trying to provide for yourself and others with reduced hours, the pandemic has had a huge financial impact on people. This can lead to overwhelming stress and anxiety. Managing this anxiety and stress can help mitigate their negative impacts and helps provide you with some sense of control over your situation.

Tips on how to cope with job loss/financial stress.

Relationships and Connections

  • About two-fifths (37.7%) of men felt that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their relationship with their intimate partner. 

Spending every waking hour with our partner, or others in our immediate households for that matter, can lead to us feeling irritable and trapped. If this sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. Make sure to take time for yourself – this will actually help you be a better partner – and encourage your partner to do the same.

Tips for maintaining a healthy romantic relationship.

  • Nearly a third of respondents who were in a relationship (30.9%) reported that they engaged in some type of abuse (primarily verbal abuse) toward their intimate partner during COVID-19.
    • More than a quarter (27.3%) reported being abused by their intimate partner (also primarily verbal abuse). 

Unfortunately, some guys have a lot of difficulty managing their feelings in adaptive ways and end up lashing out at others in different ways. That’s not a sign of strength, but rather an indication of one’s own challenges. A good man, a strong man helps himself so that he can care for and support the people in his life.

Though it’s rarely talked about, a significant proportion of men themselves fall victim to partner abuse. Often immense shame and feeling absolutely isolated in their experience get in the way of them reaching out for help and support. Yet, support is out there and you owe it to yourself to access it if you’re in an abusive relationship.

How to help male victims of domestic abuse and violence.

Be Active in Maintaining Your Mental Health

The findings of this unique study revealed broad impacts of the pandemic on men’s mental health and in doing so point to the need to be more attentive to our own and others’ well-being, provide support to others in our lives, and not feel ashamed to reach out when we need support ourselves.

Remember, good mental health doesn’t just happen by itself, it takes work. Check out our Take Action section for a comprehensive guide on self-help strategies, how to reach out for help, where to access help, and what recovery looks like. 

Written by the HeadsUpGuys Team - Combining lived experience, clinical practice, and research expertise. Reviewed and approved by Dr. John Ogrodniczuk - Professor and Director of the Psychotherapy Program at the Department of Psychiatry, The University of British Columbia.
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