Understanding how men experience, express and cope with mental distress: where next?

Sociol Health Illn. 2011 Jan;33(1):145-59. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2010.01266.x. Epub 2010 Oct 11.


In line with the shift towards prioritising lay accounts and narratives of chronic illness in sociology, there is an emerging literature on men, their subjectivities and experiences of mental distress. We argue in this paper that subjectivities and distress among men are an important area for critical sociological research. Very little is known about men's subjectivities or the meanings they give to - and how they cope with or seek help for - distress. At the same time, current theories of gender relations, performativity and wellbeing as they pertain to men are likely to shed further light on subjectivity and distress. However, current theories (and qualitative research involving men and women) are pointing to considerable complexity. In this paper, we outline what is known about distress and men, and consider the utility of gender relations, performativity, subjectivities and wellbeing for a better understanding of distress. We also ask: What other factors influence distress, and how should these be considered in relation to men and masculinities? What are the implications for research and policy?

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Communication*
  • Emotions
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masculinity*
  • Men's Health*
  • Mental Health*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*