Unemployment, coronavirus and mental illness key issues for men in 2020

The charity group Movember encourages men to grow moustaches during the month of November to raise awarenessof male mental health. Members of the City Post team and their flatmates joined in. Credit: City Post.

Covid has increased problems as International Men’s Day marks tenth anniversary.

Unemployment rate in the UK is “rising sharply”, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), while a separate ONS study showsmale suicide is at its highest for two decades.

So, as International Men’s Day reaches its tenth anniversary, and in the wake of another economic crisis, what impact is the economy having on male mental health?

A study published by The Lancet suggests male unemployment and suicide are inextricably linked. It predicted worldwide unemployment “would be associated with an increase in suicides of about 9,570 per year”.

Maria Lenn, chief executive of Suited & Booted, a charity that dresses vulnerable, low-income and unemployed men for job interviews, says clients “felt so utterly depressed and in despair” after losing jobs. According to a 2020 Samaritans report, “there is a significantly higher rate of suicide among unemployed compared to employed people”.

Men in the UK have been hit harder than women by coronavirus-induced unemployment: data from Statista shows “the unemployment rate for males in the United Kingdom was 5.2%, while for women it was 4.3%,” as of August 2020. 

The Lancet warns: “We therefore expect an extra burden for our mental health system, and the medical community should prepare for this challenge.” But “the focus of the medical system on the COVID-19 pandemic” does not bode well for mental health facilities. 

Charities like Movember, which encourages men to grow moustaches during November to raise awareness of male mental health around the time of  International Men’s Day is among charities feeling the pinch from coronavirus. The Charities Aid Foundation says that “fundraising and trading income has plummeted, just as demand for their services continues to rise”.

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