Why 7 in 10 men will feel lonely

Man alone with a bicycle

Australia’s Beyond Blue and November Foundation recently funded and released a comprehensive report (#1) about the social connectedness of men. It shows that the problem of loneliness in men over 35 years of age is much larger than we ever imagined.

Here are some of the numbers reported:

1 in 3 are unhappy about the quality of their friendships

The majority of men (69%) agree that they will experience dissatisfaction with their social connectedness at some point in their lives, while more than 1 in 3 men (37%) are dissatisfied with the quality of their relationships. This is worrying as there is a link between the quality of relationships and mental health. Men normally do not bring this up because they think their friends would not help with their personal issues, and they typically feel uncomfortable talking about personal issues.

1.1 million Australian men at risk of isolation

Nearly half of the men in the study were not satisfied with the number of friends they have. More than half of them do not feel part of a community. One other worrying statistic is that 1 in 4 scored low in the Duke Social Support Index putting them at risk of isolation (this is 1.1 million men in Australia alone).

Men’s attitude might be to blame

The lowest social support occur in men between the ages of 35 and 55. One of the reasons for this might be men’s own attitude and self-stigma that may be preventing them to reach out for help. They believe feeling alone is not a serious enough problem, but at the same time that they do not like other people telling them what to do. Upbringing and possible poor communication with one’s own father may explain some of these attitudes.

It is interesting that 70% of men believe that friends can rely on them for emotional support, while only 48% believe they can rely on their friends. This is quite a strong contrast between the perception of how much support one can give to and how much support he would receive from his male friends. This suggests that our perception of how much our friends care about us is highly underestimated.

 

These kinds of research findings provide the driving motivation for us at Octosocial Labs to create apps that support men (and women) to feel less alone and more socially connected. Our Foster Friends app, released this week, focuses on helping people who feel lonely. This is a problem observed by the report as men tend to suffer quietly, thinking that they have to “man-up” and no one should know about their problems. Foster Friends allows people to anonymously send and receive short messages of support, reducing the pressure of not appearing vulnerable to other people.

Check out Foster Friends on the App Store and don’t forget to tell your male (and female) friends about it.

References:

  1. Vicki Arbes, Charlie Coulton and Catherine Boekel
    Men’s Social Connectedness
    Hall & Partners | Open Mind, June 2014, pp 129
    http://www.beyondblue.org.au/mens-social-connectedness
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