The University of Montreal issued the following news release:

Canadian men reluctant to consult mental health services

University of Montreal study points to prejudice as No. 1 cause

Between 20 and 70 percent of Canadians affected by mental illness shun
medical treatment. Such avoidance of services provided by doctors and
psychologists is particularly acute among men, according to a recent
study published in the Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research.

In Canada, less than 10 percent of the population utilizes mental health
services for problems ranging from depression to schizophrenia.

But this number isn’t representative of the real number of people
suffering from mental illness, according study author Aline Drapeau, a
researcher at the Université de Montréal’s Department of Psychiatry and
Centre de recherche Fernand-Seguin of the Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital.

According to data from the Statistics Canada Canadian Community Health
Survey, women are 1.5 times more likely than men to turn to psychiatric
services, twice as likely to consult a psychologist and 2.5 times more
likely to turn to a general practitioner.

While these numbers might suggest that more women suffer from mental
illness, Drapeau disagrees.

“In comparable circumstances, women consult more often than men,” she says.

The discrepancy, says Drapeau, shows how men and women do not perceive
symptoms in the same way as programmed in their social anchorages.

“Social anchorages is an enculturation mechanism by which a person
learns his or her social roles,” says Drapeau.

“Men and women don’t always have the same cultural reference points
because socially acceptable attitudes and behaviors can vary for both sexes.”

For instance, parental obligations aren’t perceived equally in the
workplace. For women, it is perceived as positive to attend to maternal
duties.

For men, forgoing work to take care of the kids is perceived more negatively.

The same parallels exist in mental health. “If mental disease is seen in
a negative light in the workplace, a man will be more reluctant than a
woman to use the services available to treat their disease,” says Drapeau.

Other factors, such as tight finances or even type of employment, can
influence whether men use mental health services.

But the root of the problem, Drapeau stresses, is that men have greater
difficulty acknowledging and accepting their symptoms.

Ken Pope

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