This year, the theme of the event is Positive Male Role Models and companies and public sector organisations across the country, and indeed the world will be joining together to help bring attention to examples of positive influences for men, particularly with regards to International Men’s Day’s six pillars: male role models, the positive contribution of men in society, men’s health, improving gender relations, highlighting discrimination against men, and creating a safer world.
We often hear about the crisis in mental health among men, but that’s far from the only field where modern men are struggling. Here are just a few of the shocking statistics around male life in 2018.
On average, 12 men in the British Isles take their lives every single day
Mental health in men is an area which is finally gaining the recognition and attention it deserves after a series of high profile campaigns from governments, businesses, and spokespeople. And there’s some evidence to show that we’re starting to see some results, particularly in young men.
According to the Samaritans’ annual suicide statistics report, the rate of suicides among men in the UK and Ireland under the age of 44 dropped between 2016 and 2017 and the number of male suicides has also been decreasing year on year.
However, there’s still a way to go. In 2017, 4,382 men took their own lives, an average of 12 per day. In comparison, 1,439 women died by suicide in the same time frame: about four per day.
Mental health issues in men also disproportionately affect minorities. According to the Lambeth Collective‘s Black Health and Wellbeing Commission, black men are 17 times more likely to be diagnosed with serious mental health issues. In 2013, the Gay Men’s Health Survey found 3% of gay men and 5% of bisexual men attempted suicide that year, compared to 0.4% of heterosexual men.
One in five men die before they hit 65
It’s not just mental health where men are in need of intervention. Physical health is also an important talking point for International Men’s Day.
According to a report compiled by Men’s Health Forum in 2014 and revised in 2017, 19% of men die before their 65th birthday. The biggest cause of death in men is cancer, followed by circulatory diseases.
Men are 14% more likely to get cancer than women and they’re 37% more likely to die from the disease. The most common type of cancer in men is prostate cancer which accounts for 25% of all male cancer cases and 13% of deaths from cancer. A quarter of black men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
Part of the problem is that men are less likely to acknowledge illness and don’t know as much about their health. Men between the ages of 20 and 40 are half as likely to go to the doctor than women in the same age bracket. Men were also less likely to know about their health status, be able to spot cancer warning signs, and read about medication before taking it.
Men also smoke and drink more than women.
Fewer boys finish secondary education with a minimum of five C grades at GCSE, including English and Maths
Education is another area where boys are falling behind girls. Girls are 20% more likely to finish secondary school with five C grades or higher at GCSE, according to the Department for Education’s statistics.
In addition, boys are less likely to be high achievers in school. The stats show that 52.5% of boys achieve a minimum of five A*-C grades at GCSE compared to 61.8% of girls.
A 2014 report also showed that boys are three times more likely than girls to be excluded or expelled from school.
The educational attainment gap begins at school but continues to echo through men’s lives. According to data from UCAS, in 2017 over 71,000 less men were accepted to UK universities than women. In the class of 2017, men make up around 43% of new Freshers.
In apprenticeships too, there’s a gender gap. According to government data in the 2016/17 intake cycle, young men made up only 46% of total hires.
And while we often hear that professions such as medicine and law are dominated by men, that may not be the case for much longer. Data from the General Medical Council shows that year on year fewer men are entering high skill professions such as dentistry, medicine, law and education.
As it stands, the Department for Education does not fund any initiatives aimed at addressing the underachievement of boys in education. There are also a significant lack of male role models in schools. In England, just 26.2% of teachers (15.2% in primary schools), 8.5% of teaching assistants, and 18% of support staff are men.
Men are twice as likely to be a victim of a violent crime
That’s according to a 2013 report from the Office Of National Statistics, which found that trend also holds true in children. Men also make up around 78% of the perpetrators of violent crime, according to the ONS.
A 2009 policing report found that around two-thirds of murder victims are men.
While women are significantly more likely to suffer domestic abuse than men, that’s not to say that men aren’t also victimised in their own homes. Just over 13% of men say they’ve been a victim of domestic abuse at some point in their lives. In fact, in every three reports of domestic abuse, one victim is male.
Again, this is significantly more of a problem in the gay community. In 2008/09 6.2% of gay and bisexual men said they’d suffered domestic abuse, compared to 3.3% of heterosexual men.
But men are also significantly less likely to tell anyone if they’ve suffered domestic abuse. 10% will tell the police (compared to 26% of women), 11% will tell a health professional (compared to 23% of women), and 23% will tell someone else in a position of authority (compared to 46% of women.)
There is also a significant dearth of support for men suffering from domestic abuse. In the UK there are a total of 93 spaces offering refuge or safe houses for male victims of domestic violence, and only 22 of these are male only. For women, there are around 4,000 of these refuges. There is no refuge for men in London.
Around 1,000 men are raped every month
In a year when high profile male victims of sexual harassment, such as Terry Crews and Anthony Rapp, have come forward about their experiences, it’s also worth shining a light on the fact that it isn’t just women who suffer from sexual violence.
According to a 2017 crime survey by the ONS, in 2017 alone there were around 138,000 reports of sexual assaults against men that year. It’s also likely this could be an underestimation due to men not coming forward about their assaults. The charity Rape Crisis found that every year, an average of around 1,000 men are raped every month in England and Wales alone.
This is a particular problem in the gay community. According to a survey from the Gay Men’s Health Project 62% of gay men have been groped without consent, and 30% described themselves as “a survivor of sexual assault, abuse or rape.”
In addition, according to the Government’s revenge porn helpline, around a quarter of victims of revenge porn (the sharing of explicit photos and images by an ex or current partner) are men.
One in every five victims of forced marriage is a man, according to a report from ONS statistics.
Around one million children in the UK have no contact with their fathers
According to the ONS there are about 2.8 million lone-parent families. Of these families, the percentage being headed by men has stayed at around 10% over the past decade according to Gingerbread, a resource centre for single-parent families. The Centre for Social Justice estimated that around one million children in the UK are living with no contact with their father at all. A 2008 report found that the vast majority of single parents don’t receive child support payments. But that’s not to say that some fathers aren’t trying. The Nuffield Foundation reported in 2015 that 96% of parents fighting in court for access to their children are fathers.
86% of rough sleepers are men
Homelessness is an issue which disproportionately affects men. A 2017 study from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Social Affairs found that 86% of rough sleepers are men.
Homeless charity Crisis also reports that 84% of hidden homeless people (people who are at risk of eviction, sofa-surfing at friends and family, or living in unsatisfactory conditions) are men.
Figures compiled earlier this year found that between 2013 and 2017 the amount of homeless people who’ve died on the streets or in temporary accommodation has doubled and around 90% of those deaths were men.