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  1. ITV Report

Is there an epidemic of depression amongst men?

ITV1's Tonight programme takes a look at the stigma surrounding male depression. Photo: Tonight/ITV

It’s a condition which the World Health Organisation predicts within a decade will be more disabling than cancer.

Depression is an illness one in five of us will suffer from at some point in our lives. Experts fear the statistics mask a hidden epidemic of male depression, because men are less willing to ask for help.

On ITV1’s ‘Tonight’ programme at 7.30pm, Penny Marshall takes a close look at male depression and the stigma that surrounds it.

  • Do women really suffer from depression more than men?
  • Or is it that men just don’t talk about it?
Duncan Bell hid his depression for years. Credit: Tonight/ITV

Former England rugby player Duncan Bell hid his depression for years before recently being honest about it ahead of a mental health rugby conference.

I used to think, like a lot of people that depression is a weakness and you need to man up a bit and smile, how hard can that be?

But it’s not about smiling and being happy. Just because you’ve got a smile on your face doesn’t hide a multitude of sins.

Duncan Bell during rugby training. Credit: Tonight/ITV

I think the ending of my marriage definitely sped things up, but I think it was always there. Even in my early twenties, a couple of times I booked to see a GP about things and told myself to man up.

And I went to see another one and was told to get help and I told myself again to toughen up, that can't be right, I’m a man and a rugby player and I don’t need help.

It wells up from within you, I almost get the feeling, I almost get the feeling of the world closing in, almost like tunnel vision it comes from the outside.

Editor of Nuts magazine Pete Cashmore said the condition is 'emasculating' Credit: Tonight/ITV

Another person who knows what the feeling is like is Pete Cashmore, Editor at large of men's magazine Nuts and a sufferer of depression himself.

It’s an incredibly emasculating condition, it makes you feel like less of a man. It takes things away from you like your joviality, your libido.

It takes all of those things away and it makes you cry, a lot. And I think there are men who find it difficult to talk about things like that.

Duke McKenzie is a former world champion boxer. For the last seven years, he's been inspiring sufferers of male depression at his gym in Croydon.

Duke McKenzie helps sufferers of depression at his gym. Credit: Tonight/ITV

Many of the men Duke sees at his exercise classes are referrals from the charity MIND, and an increasing number of them are unemployed.

If a man loses his job whether he's been in it for a month or ten years and all of a sudden he's unemployed, that brings it's own pressure because he can't pay his own bills.

He can't look after the kids so that makes him feel a bit inferior because now he's not the provider. So what does he do?

He goes into a little spiral of depression and it's very hard to pick yourself up out of that position.

What I do is give everyone the mindset of when I was a world champion, so that gives them a leg up straightaway.

I get into their head a little bit and talk to them and make them think they’re fighting Sugar Ray Leonard, and that gives them self worth.

Macclesfield Town football Club play’s host to ‘It’s a Goal', an all male support group, where they use football as a metaphor to address their issues. For some of them the eleven week course has been a life changing experience.

'It's a Goal' meeting. Credit: Tonight/ITV

Adam, a participant on the course said:

My confidence has grown with going out. When I first started the group I couldn’t spend much time with my daughter, unable to look after her on my own but over time it’s becoming more doable.

GP Sarah Jarvis offers advice for those who think they may be suffering from depression. She offers help with how to deal with the condition and where to find help.

If you think you may be suffering from depression and would like help you can contact: