Anxiety UK reveals ‘service accessibility’ is biggest barrier to men seeking mental health help

Anxiety UK research has found the most common reason why anxious men hesitate to seek mental health support is ‘service accessibility’, with ‘stigma’ ranking second.

The charity’s survey of more than 600 men found 39% said service accessibility was the main barrier, with 33% reporting stigma.

Two thirds of all respondents waited to reach crisis point before seeking help, which meant their anxiety was impacting their day-to-day lives.

Anxiety UK operations director Dave Smithson said: “It’s about knowing where and how to get help, and not having to be on a long waiting list.

“There is a role for voluntary sector organisations like Anxiety UK to help people access therapy at affordable rates.

“Private sector therapy can be out of reach for some financially.”


Smithson urged men to be open and outlined the speed at which the charity provides help.

He added: “We pride ourselves on the fact that in normal times clients should be having their first therapy session within two weeks.

“In the pandemic, we’ve asked our therapists to speed up to enable clients to have their first session within one week.”

98% of survey respondents who had received therapy through Anxiety UK indicated they would encourage others to access its therapy services.

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Smithson said: “Our therapy starts as low as £15 per session – it’s on a means tested sliding scale.

“It makes sure anybody, regardless of their financial situation, can access affordable private therapy.”

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During a webinar launch of survey results on International Men’s Day – 19 November – Smithson voiced concerns given known facts on men’s mental health.

He said: “Many cases go undiagnosed.

“We know that three times as many men than women take their own lives, and men aged 40-49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK.”

Don’t bottle it up: Men are encouraged to open up


Smithson praised high profile figures such as ex-cricketer Andrew Flintoff and Anxiety UK ambassador rapper Nick Brewer for inspiring men to come forward quicker.

“High profile celebrities and ambassadors talking about their thoughts and feelings is making a real difference,” he said.

Hesitation: 8% of men surveyed had taken more than five years to seek help

Confidence specialist Mats Kolbjornsen provided assurance to men regarding opening up in therapy sessions.

Survey findings indicated that some respondents were unsure about how effective therapy would be.

He said: “You can be in control about what you’re willing to share or the depth you’re willing to explore.”

Other men reported it was the anxiety itself that held them back from starting therapy.


Kevin Moore, 54, found himself in a similar quandary at the age of 29.

“People see this big tough looking guy and therefore you think you can’t be seen to be worried about things,” he said.

Moore, who stands at six feet eight inches, suffered a breakdown and was treated for depression.

He said: “The breakdown, where I couldn’t cope, lasted for seven months.

“Of those seven months, it took me three months before I decided to engage with services.”

He saw parallels with the survey findings concerning the condition itself holding men back from seeking help with the situation he faced.

Big dog: Big Dog Little Dog co-founder Kevin Moore

He said: “Similarly, a big reason why I was reluctant was because with depression you don’t have the motivation to engage.

“How do you break the paradox that you end up in?”

He employed ‘self-medication’ such as alcohol consumption as a coping strategy instead in the short time.

“It was only I realised that I was getting worse despite unhelpful coping strategies that I made the decision to engage,” he added.


His life changed subsequently, co-founding mental health training and consultancy organisation Big Dog Little Dog in 2017.

It provides training and education to companies on how to improve the way that they support people suffering from poor mental health.

In a non-executive director role for Get Set UK he is also working with Lambeth Council to deliver  mental health first aid training to people who are newly redundant.

He said: “The training boosts employability as employers respect the course.

“People are using the course to manage their own wellbeing in this world they’re not used to.”

Moore was upbeat on making recoveries from mental health conditions after seeking help.

He said: “It changed me as a person.

“If a programme came on the TV now which had a feel-good ending to it, don’t look at me as there is chance there’ll be a tear running down my face.”

Anxiety UK’s 03444 775 774 helpline is open Monday-Friday from 9.30am – 5.30pm

Contact Anxiety UK through E-Mail on [email protected]

Samaritans‘ helpline is available 24 hours a day on 116 123

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Harold A Maio
Harold A Maio
10 December 2020 5:47 pm

The idea that “there is” a stigma to mental illnesses has to be instilled in us. We ought all male ourselves wary of those instilling it in us.

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