The recession is having a disproportionately negative effect on men’s mental health, according to a report published today.

Mental health charity Mind said its report, based on a survey of more than 2,000 people, is evidence that a men’s mental health strategy is needed to match the existing women’s mental health strategy.

Nearly 40 per cent of men are feeling worried or low, but only 23 per cent said they would see their GP if they felt low for over a fortnight.

According to the report, Men and Mental Health: get it off your chest, the top three issues playing on men’s minds were job security, work and money.

The study also found that middle aged men are seven times more likely than women to have suicidal thoughts and only half as likely to talk to friends about problems.

Middle aged men are also the group with the highest suicide rate in England and Wales.

Identity crisis

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said: “Being a bread winner is something that is still crucial to the male psyche, so if a man loses his job he loses a large part of his identity, putting his mental wellbeing in jeopardy.

“The problem is that too many men wrongly believe that admitting mental distress makes them weak and this kind of self stigma can cost lives.”

“When men look for help, they can be put off by health premises that are geared more towards women. GP surgeries offering women’s magazines can feel like a hairdressers and make men feel uncomfortable.

“The NHS must become more male friendly offering treatments that appeal to men, like exercise on prescription or computerised therapy, and advertising their services in places men frequent.”

He called for the Department of Health to include a men’s mental health strategy in its forthcoming New Horizons document, which will replace the 10 year national service framework launched in 1999.