As recession bites across the Europe, men’s health organisations will want to read a report from the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) showing that economic recession accompanied by high unemployment is linked to ‘extremely adverse’ results for men’s mental health.
The report Facing the Challenge – The Impact of the Recession and Unemployment on Men’s Health is the result of a research and consultation process carried out, in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, by Nexus Research Co-operative on behalf of IPH.
All told 93% of frontline organisations, North and South, in contact with unemployed men linked health challenges to unemployment and recession and all organisations surveyed noted adverse health challenges for men they work with. In addition to health challenges being higher for unemployed men, they were also very high for men who saw themselves as being threatened with unemployment.
The organisations surveyed and the men who were interviewed identified the challenges to health as:
- High levels of stress or anxiety
- Dependency on or over-use of alcohol/other drugs
- Deterioration in physical health
- Development of conflict in family or close personal relationships
- Isolation (including sharing or communicating problems)
- A reluctance to approach services or seek help
IPH Associate Director, Owen Metcalfe stated: ‘This research has identified the relationship between being unemployed and suffering ill health, particularly mental health for men. Men’s health issues in times of economic recession are made more difficult by their tendency to take fewer health preventative measures, and be less likely to seek support.
‘The combination of perceived inadequate service responses and the reluctance of many men to communicate their problems mean that a large proportion of more critical effects are undoubtedly hidden. Organisations and projects operating within the community are often the first point of access and it is critical that they provide a secure and trusting environment for those seeking support.’
Increase in suicide
The increase in the number of suicides is a particular cause for concern. In 2010, 313 deaths in Northern Ireland were registered as suicides, 240 of those were males and 73 were female, this is the highest figure on record.
The Republic of Ireland also recorded an increase in male suicides rates. For the 12 month period ended June 2009 there were 379 male suicides. For the 12 month period ended June 2010 this figure rose to 427.
In the UK suicide among middle-aged men is also up. But the most marked increase in suicides has been in Greece where there was a 40% rise in those taking their own lives in just one year (Jan-May, 2010 to Jan-May 2011).