Men are much more likely than women to have misconceptions about mental health

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
October 10, 2021, 10:47 AM GMT+0

Men are more inclined than women to believe that people with mental health issues will underperform at work or could just ‘snap out of it’ if they really wanted to

As World Mental Health Day approaches, YouGov data shows that stigma around mental health is much more common among men than women.

Among nine common misconceptions about mental health, men are more likely to agree with all but two.

Men – who overwhelmingly tend to dominate senior management roles – are much more prone than women to say it’s ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ true that people with mental health issues can’t work or will under-perform. Nearly three in ten men (28%) believe this, compared with one in five women (18%). In fact, most people with mental health issues can be as productive as those not suffering from poor mental health.

Men are likewise nearly twice as likely as women to believe that “rich people with mental health issues lack perspective and don’t know what real problems are” at 23% to 12%.

One in seven men (14%) believe people with mental health issues can choose to stop feeling bad if they just try hard enough – a view shared only by 4% of women. Mental illnesses are medical conditions, influenced by biological factors, life experiences and family history – not a mood that can change quickly.

Similarly, some 12% of men say it’s ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ true that people with mental health issues tend to be violent and unpredictable, while only one in 20 women (5%) agree. This is untrue – the vast majority of people with a mental illness are not violent.

Another harmful misconception that’s more prevalent among men is that mental health problems are a sign of weakness, with 11% of men believing this compared with only 2% of women. Separate studies show that men are less likely to feel they have someone to confide in and also have much higher suicide rates.

The most common misconception among Britons about mental health is equally common among women and men, however, with respectively 39% and 37% believing that nothing can be done to prevent mental health issues. But according to the Mental Health Foundation, stopping mental health problems before they start is possible.

If you are struggling with your mental health, you can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123 or contact them by email at

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