‘Laddish’ men more likely to have mental health issues

Men with more masculine tendencies are thought to be more at risk at suffering from mental health issues.
Men with more masculine tendencies are thought to be more at risk at suffering from mental health issues.
  • Men who like the desire to win less likely to ask for help with mental illness
  • Study involved 20,000 participants
  • Excessive focus on work ‘can be harming to health’

Typical ‘lads’ are more likely to suffer mental health problems, a new study suggests.

Men who subscribe to traditionally masculine traits like the desire to win, violent tendencies and sexual promiscuity were more likely to suffer from depression and less likely to seek help.

The study, published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, found that self-reliance, playboy behaviour and power over women were three traits most strongly associated with mental health issues.

Dr Joel Wong, from Indiana University Bloomington, said: “In general, individuals who conformed strongly to masculine norms tended to have poorer mental health and less favourable attitudes toward seeking psychological help, although the results differed depending on specific types of masculine norms.”

His team analysed 78 pieces of research involving almost 20,000 participants that focused on the relationship between 11 typically masculine norms.

They were the desire to win, the need for emotional control, risk-taking, violence, dominance, sexual promiscuity, self-reliance, primacy of work, power over women, disdain for homosexuality and the pursuit of status.

Dr Wong’s team also focused on three specific outcomes - negative mental health, positive mental health, and psychological help seeking.

The found that those conforming to the list of masculine norms more closely were more likely to exhibit negative mental health.

Dr Wong said: “The masculine norms of playboy and power over women are the norms most closely associated with sexist attitudes.

“The robust association between conformity to these two norms and negative mental health-related outcomes underscores the idea that sexism is not merely a social injustice, but may also have a detrimental effect on the mental health of those who embrace such attitudes.”

But they study also found that those men most at risk of negative mental health were also the least likely to seek mental health treatment.

Of the traits analysed, the team found that primacy of work had no effect on the individual’s mental health.

Dr Wong said: “Perhaps this is a reflection of the complexity of work and its implications for well-being.

“An excessive focus on work can be harmful to one’s health and interpersonal relationships, but work is also a source of meaning for many individuals.”