Learning to Talk: Men's Management of Distress Through Disclosures

Pye, I. 2018. Learning to Talk: Men's Management of Distress Through Disclosures. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

TitleLearning to Talk: Men's Management of Distress Through Disclosures
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsPye, I.

As a result of social stigma and male normative gendered expectations, many men continue to conceal their problems from others and are reluctant to seek help. Such behaviour is assumed to contribute to these men getting fewer health consultations, having high suicide rates and the associated large number of avoidable male deaths. As a group, men in mid- and later-life have largely been neglected in research practice and appear to be particularly vulnerable as this group has shown a recent rise in suicide rates. This study aimed to increase understanding into how and why men in mid- and later-life weigh up decisions to disclose or conceal when suffering under mental-distress. Studying the decision making behaviour of men in mid- and later-life not only addresses a group which is underrepresented in research, but further poses potential for identifying the development of distress disclosure behaviour in connection with phases in life. Within a life-course framework, and using in-depth interviews, this study enquired into past decision-making behaviour of 20 men aged between 45-86 years of age when having had to cope with serious issues. A subsequent thematic analysis of results revealed four factors relevant for understanding this problem. 1) For many men, as boys, the act of distress disclosure was suppressed within the family. Boys were discouraged from acknowledging forms of distress and disclosing distress was associated with weakness and ungratefulness. For most men, these associations remained largely unchallenged well into adult life. 2) For a large number of men, their social network does not appear to provide adequate possibilities for disclosure, being either too small or inadequate in nature. 3) Ensuring high levels of confidentiality and professionality and minimising the time and effort needed to be invested in the help-seeking process can ease the act of disclosure towards professionals and lay people for men in distress. 4) Certain personal developments, such as those acquired through illness or psychotherapy can enable men to overcome stigma in later life and disclose to others when necessary. Suggestions for application and further research are discussed.

Publication dates
PublishedSep 2018

Permalink - https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/item/qq4w6/learning-to-talk-men-s-management-of-distress-through-disclosures

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