gender expectations shape our mental environment and (…) as the feminist dictum has it, patriarchy hurts men too. For most, the mechanics are more subtle but no less real. Reams of research papers have demonstrated how boys and girls are socialised differently, and their behaviour is interpreted differently from their first kicks in the womb onwards. Infant boys who display anger and aggression in response to stress or frustration are more likely than girls to be indulged or rewarded by parents and caregivers; when the response is sadness and anxiety, the reactions by gender tend to be reversed. This helps to set in place a lifelong pattern in which boys and men are more likely to externalise anger and distress into violence and antisocial behaviour and are less likely to seek help with personal problems of all sorts. They end up more likely to take drastic, solitary steps to self-manage or self-medicate their problems.
There is little evidence to suggest men suffer significantly more (or, for that matter, less) from mental ill-health than women, but plenty of evidence that they experience it differently, manifest it differently and cope with it differently. There may be many reasons why women fill the doctors’ waiting rooms while men fill the criminal and coroners’ courts, but I doubt any is as significant as the gender lessons children learn in their first few years."