Through the Psychiatrist Lens – Dr Graham Campbell
Dr Graham Campbell, Psychedelic Therapy Research Psychiatrist & former NHS Consultant Psychiatrist, has extensive experience working with patients and men who suffer with mental health difficulties.
He shares his observations on how mental health illnesses most commonly present in men, with some of the less obvious signs, along with why male mental health stigma is so prevalent – and how he believes we can help to dismantle that stigma.
How mental health illnesses commonly present in men:
I’m Graham Campbell, I’m a psychiatrist and I worked in the NHS for 15 years and half of that time was as a consultant psychiatrist for men in a psychiatric hospital. But I’ve also had depression and anxiety myself and so I’ve had personal experience of mental health challenges as well.
Generally, I think men tend to present quite late. I think people find it hard to open up, they find it hard to reach out and share their feelings. I think if men do go to someone, and open up and confide, I think it needs to be taken really seriously because that might only be the tip of the iceberg.
And men sometimes present in a different way. They don’t often come to you saying they feel low or they feel anxious. It might be that men present with substance misuse difficulties. It might even be that men become more irritable, agitated, aggressive, violent, angry. And that can be certainly with depression and anxiety one of the main features of their presentation.
Why do you think there is such a stigma around mental health for men?
I think there’s a lot of social pressure with – and for – men to be strong, to be dominant, to be resilient. There’s a lot of pressure to earn the money, there are all of these traditional roles that men have to inhabit really. So that pressure build ups and that can actually make it really hard for people to say I’m struggling, I need help. Because that feels quite shaming.
How can we help to dismantle the stigma around mental health for men?
I think for men going to the GP or going to find a counsellor or a therapist, these are sometimes really huge steps that a lot of men feel are not the right thing for them, even if they are really suffering. So i think the more opportunity there is for connection in society and community to avoid isolation – spaces like men’s groups or any type of activity that promotes people being together – men being together – maybe without the need for alcohol or anything like that, but being able to talk and open up about their feelings is a really valuable thing.
One of the bravest things that men can do is actually to connect with other people, other men, to share feelings – to be able to open up. And I think turning that around and recognising that bravery is really crucial.