Boys receive more diagnoses than girls, but as adults, the trend reverses. For what ? Because men are less likely to seek help, even if their distress is real. Dr. Mélissa Généreux demonstrated this this week during a videoconference at the opening of the 10th National Meeting on Men’s Health and Well-being. Overview in figures and reflection.

Pandemic, loneliness, hyperconnectivity, divide, inflation, housing crisis: “times are tough,” summarized Dr. Mélissa Généreux, and men react on average differently than women to stress and adversity. They focus more on the problem, and less on their emotions. They are more inclined than women to present a positive state of mind, but they are also more inclined to react by consuming and exhibiting aggressive behavior.

From the moment they enter school, the gap between boys and girls is evident, particularly in the social and emotional sphere. 17% of boys in kindergarten are classified as vulnerable in terms of emotional maturity, compared to 6% of girls. Boys are also more vulnerable than girls in terms of social skills, cognitive and language development, communication skills and physical health and well-being.

Throughout primary and secondary education, more boys than girls have an “HDAA” classification: disability, learning difficulties or adjustment difficulties. For example, at the start of primary school, boys are twice as likely as girls to have adjustment difficulties (ADHD, oppositional disorder, etc.). When parents are surveyed, they are more concerned about the future of their boys than the future of their girls.

During adolescence, many more young girls report anxiety, depression and dark thoughts, but the gap narrows or disappears in early adulthood, according to a survey of 17,000 Quebecers aged 12 to 25, in 2023, by Dr. Généreux’s team. “Over time, boys tend to be more inclined to report excessive alcohol consumption,” adds Dr. Généreux, professor at the University of Sherbrooke.

“Is it true to say that young women or older women suffer more, exhibit more psychological distress than men? The answer is yes… but not that much,” continues Dr. Mélissa Généreux. 12% of Quebec men aged 18 to 34 consider their mental health fair to poor, compared to 15% of women of the same age. From the age of 50, more men than women have a negative perception of their mental health (11% of men aged 50 to 64, compared to 7% of women).

And here’s the graphic that grabs: Even though men are aware of their distress, from the age of 15, they consistently receive fewer diagnoses than women. In short, as soon as they are no longer under the responsibility of their parents, the trend reverses. “To receive a medical diagnosis, you must have asked for help,” recalls Dr. Généreux. Quebec men are also approximately half as likely as women to use antidepressants.

It’s a well-known sad reality: although men attempt suicide less often than women, their suicide rate is three times higher than that of women. Men are also sadly well represented in Quebec’s overdose statistics (67%), overdose deaths (75%) and visible homelessness (66%).

To study the impacts of the pandemic, Mélissa Généreux’s team surveyed 8,000 Quebec men and women in relationships in 2021, and four questions related to domestic violence experienced at the time of the survey. 20% of male respondents said they were victims of some form of violence, compared to 18% of women. “Violence exercised by men against women is more dangerous in terms of severity, consequences, recurrence, underlying motivation for control,” the researcher emphasizes. […] The discomfort suffered by men who experience violence must not be forgotten or dismissed. »

Director of the Montreal Men’s Resource Center, social worker Éric Couto proposed possible solutions: increase the number of models of men capable of expressing their vulnerability, offer services to men and those who help them, and take care little boys, who are taught competition and domination very early on. “It is quite well documented that we will console young boys less than little girls,” underlines Mr. Couto, according to whom this “deconstruction work” must be carried out collectively.