Young men and psychosocial health

The norms related to what it is like to be a man or an adolescent boy contribute to boys’ and men’s psychosocial distress as well as to their inability to seek help and care in time.

Psychosocial health issues among children and adolescents in Sweden is a major problem. Fewer adolescent boys and young men seek support and help for their mental health compared with girls, even though there are many institutions focused on targeted support for young people. There are still major gaps in the knowledge and understanding of adolescent boys’ and young men’s psychosocial health issues.

We know that if an individual tries very hard to fit in and live up to stereotypical gender norms, this increases the risk of psychosocial health issues. Expectations linked to masculinity norms make it difficult for many young men to put their experiences into words and to dare to talk about how they feel. In MÄN's report Killar om våld (Young men on violence), published in 2020, many of those who sought support through our chat testified that the grown-up world does not take their stories about violence seriously.

In Sweden, seven out of ten people who die by suicide are men. One challenge in the efforts to prevent and treat psychosocial health issues and reduce the risk of suicide among boys and men is the norms of masculinity saying that men should be strong and performance-focused. These norms define both how men see their own emotional needs and how healthcare is set up. When it comes to seeking help for emotional problems, such as difficulties regarding relationships and sexuality, the norms for boys and men tend to be very restrictive (Tyler & Williams 2013).

Psychosocial health issues can lead to self-destructive actions and violence against oneself and others, and men are overrepresented in various forms of risk-taking behaviour. There is also a connection between psychosocial health issues and intimate partner violence. Read more about masculinity norms and risk.

MÄN applies what we call 'a support staircase' with different levels of psychosocial support. Among other things, we have an online psychosocial support service especially for adolescent boys, which receives 6,000–9,000 support-seekers each year. We also offer conversational therapy to young men who have committed violent acts. Read more about supporting young men.

Source: Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions

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Young men on violence