The National Health Service is struggling to cope with the mounting pressure on its staff, as men are increasingly forced to make choices between accessing care and seeking treatment.
But there is a clear pattern emerging, and it’s a problem that is putting men at a significant disadvantage.
The rise of the internet The number of men using the internet to seek medical advice and find support for themselves is increasing, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The number in Australia seeking help has nearly doubled in the past two years.
More than a quarter of those surveyed said they were seeing a GP more often, compared with just 20 per cent of women.
It’s a trend that is likely to continue in the years to come.
The AIFW said this trend was driven by increased internet use among men, as well as the fact that men are now the primary users of mobile phones.
But it said the rise in internet use was not only impacting the health of men.
“It’s a health crisis, a crisis for the men themselves and for their family members,” the AIFIW’s chief executive, Dr Andrew Prentice, told the ABC.
He said the growing prevalence of internet use, coupled with the availability of a range of social media apps such as Instagram and Facebook, was contributing to the rising numbers of men seeking help.
“We’re seeing men and women sharing information, they’re sharing photos, they are sharing videos, they use social media to talk about their experience,” Dr Prentice said.
Dr Prentice pointed to a study in the US that found the prevalence of depression among men has increased more than fourfold in the last decade, and nearly double in the first five years of internet access.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan.
“The internet is a great way to connect, to talk, to communicate, and to find out about things,” he said.
“If we have a shortage of the right doctors, then we’re really in a crisis.”
‘There are too few’ Professor Chris Jones, who researches gender and social issues at the Australian National University, said the issue was exacerbated by a number of factors.
“[The] men’s issue is a national one, and the issue is really about social issues,” he told the BBC.
“There’s too few male doctors in Australia, so they don’t have the opportunity to talk to the men who are most at risk of mental health problems.”
Dr Jones said while men were not being seen as the primary focus of mental healthcare, there were a number that did need attention.
And he pointed to the growing use of antidepressants by women as a contributing factor.
“Antidepressants are a way of helping women cope with their own mental health issues, and a lot of the men are using them,” he explained.
In fact, one study found that about one in four men aged between 25 and 34 were taking an antidepressant.
What’s behind the increase?
Dr Evans said the trend towards internet use and access to mental health resources were the main drivers for the increase in online use.
It was also likely to be linked to the rise of smartphones and social media, which are often used by young men and boys.
Professor Jones said that while it was likely the internet was contributing, it was not the only factor.
One study of about 800 people found that more than half of the respondents said they had a friend who was a medical doctor.
But he said this did not necessarily mean they would seek help, as they did not want to be seen as “a burden” to the system.
“The reason that a lot [of the men] are using the health service is they’re not looking for it.
It might be a medical condition or a health problem, but they just want to have a chat with someone and find out what’s going on,” he added.
‘It’s not just about health’ The ABC contacted more than 60 leading doctors across Australia, asking for their advice on the issue.
They said the online support and access services provided by the AFIW and the AHA could help reduce the burden of stress on men, but there was no one single answer.
A spokesperson for the AFA, Professor Mark Scott, said while he was not aware of a study of online health for men, the fact was that the AFF had received feedback on the needs of men and was “making significant progress” in addressing these issues.
Mr Scott said the AFE had been working with a number health organisations to create a system of support for men.
“That includes supporting men to get help in the most appropriate way for their health needs, including access to support, referral and treatment options,” he wrote in an email.
Some of the major health organisations and other organisations that provide support for people with mental health needs are also supporting the AFS to develop