Men struggling with mental health during lockdown

Steven, samaritans volunteer says its important to talk during difficult times (chris odonovan photograhy - samaritans)

Samaritans: Volunteer Steve urged anyone in need of support to come forward (image copyright Chris O'Donovan)

A survey for Samaritans revealed 42% have experienced symptoms including isolation and anxiety

11th August 2020 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

More than four in ten Scottish men say the coronavirus lockdown has had a negative impact on their mental health, a new survey has revealed.

The poll for Samaritans Scotland found 42% of men had struggled with their mental health since lockdown began in March, with loneliness, anxiety, financial worries and separation from loved ones cited as major concerns.

A similar number said they had spoken to others about their worries, reinforcing Samaritans’ message about the importance of support networks in times of crisis, while more than half (54%) reported fearing for the future as lockdown restrictions begin to be eased.

The charity, which spoke to 2,000 men across the country over the course of the survey, has now launched a campaign to encourage anyone experiencing tough times to come forward for help.

The Real People, Real Stories campaign highlights men who have overcome their problems by seeking support through Samaritans. They include Steven, 36, a father of five from Ayrshire who became a volunteer with the charity following a suicide attempt.

He said: “When I called Samaritans I wasn’t sure what to expect or if talking on the phone would help; I felt hopeless and scared that I could harm myself. When someone answered I wasn’t sure what to say but the volunteer didn’t rush me to speak. He stayed on the line and slowly I started to relax.

“Speaking about what I was feeling helped me to process things; I started to see that I didn’t want to take my own life, I wanted to change the way I was living. Knowing that someone took the time to listen to me, without judgement, helped to show me that I was important and that it was ok to ask for help when I needed it.”

Rachel Cackett, Samaritans Scotland executive director, said seeking support was more important now than ever as lockdown continues to add stress to people’s lives.

“These figures are another sign of the strain the coronavirus pandemic has placed on mental health and wellbeing and a stark reminder of why we must work to make sure that anyone who is struggling feels able to ask for help and receive the right support at the right time,” she said.

“At Samaritans, we know that less well-off middle aged men have remained the highest risk group for suicide in the UK for decades. The impact of the pandemic and the restrictions put in place to contain the virus risk exacerbating the sense of isolation and disconnection that many men face, making it harder to seek help.

“We know that by sharing stories of recovery we can encourage men to seek help and, through our Real People, Real Stories campaign, we’ll be sharing messages of hope and connection from men who have overcome struggles. Now, more than ever, we want people to know that we’re here to listen and that you don’t have to face tough times alone.”

To contact Samaritans, call free on 116 123 or visit Samaritans.org