Young men are hidden self-harmers

Françoise Facella
Communications & Events
Illustration of a young man shouting "tell us what men need when they're not ok"

Alarming numbers of 16–24-year-old men in the UK have revealed that they have intentionally hurt themselves (24%) or have considered it (22%), as a way of coping with a difficult situation or emotion, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by three leading youth charities.

Worryingly, the survey also disclosed that young men, when they feel under pressure or stress, would be likely to drink heavily (21%), punch walls (19%) and control their eating (16%) as ways to cope. Over-exercising (12%), pulling hair (11%) and taking illegal drugs (10%) have also been mentioned as ways of dealing with pressure or stress.

One young man, when asked to talk about the situation or emotion that first led to self-harm, said: “I was overworking putting pressure on home and work life. Feeling overwhelmed with stress daily.”

The Mix, selfharmUK and YoungMinds have joined forces to shed light on specific self-harm behaviours that young men engage in and have found that these are not always commonly recognised as self-harm. As a result, there is a crisis happening now among young men who struggle to find positive ways to cope with overwhelming events and emotions.

Today marks the 5th annual Self Harm Awareness Day and The Mix, selfharmUK and YoungMinds are launching the ‘What Men Need’ campaign, to offer a solution to young men. They are calling for young men to tell them what they would need to be able to open up and talk about their feelings when everything isn’t ok, deal with their problems in a positive way and avoid the crisis. They are inviting everyone to share their thoughts and ideas via social media using #WhatMenNeed and #SHAD2017. This insight will help to ensure support and services are tailored to young men’s needs. The charities are also calling for funds to support the development of the solution.

Other key findings from the survey

  • 59% of young men have over-exercised to the point of injury but continued exercising despite having hurt themselves. However only 23% considered over-exercising a form of self-harm.
  • Depression, anxiety and stress are mentioned as causes of self-harm in young men.
  • 36% of young men say they wouldn’t do anything in particular if they are feeling stressed or under pressure, which could to lead to a crisis situation.
  • To get support about self-harm either for themselves or a friend, young men would turn to their friends (48%), GP (43%) and to online support and advice services (41%), showing the importance of peer-to-peer support online and offline.

Chris Martin, CEO at The Mix, said “What’s shocking about these results is the high percentage of young men who are self-harming. The national standard of young people who self-harm in the UK is about 20%. Even though self-harm is often thought as a ‘girls’ problem’, this survey suggests that there might be an equal number of young men and women who are self-harming. At The Mix we are dedicated to creating safe spaces for young people to support each other by expressing their problems without any judgement. The work that we are doing with selfharmUK and YoungMinds to understand the specific needs of young men, to be able to address their problems before the point of crisis, is absolutely essential.”



Media Enquiries
Francoise Facella at The Mix: [email protected], or call 07766 660 755.

Notes to Editors


About the poll
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 509 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th – 20th February 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK men aged 16-24.



Published on 01-Mar-2017