Friends*

*And the feelings with we fear to discuss

As kids, our friends seem to be our whole world. So why is it as we get older we let our friendships fall by the wayside?

We seem to be able to easily go without contacting a friend for months or even years. Something you wouldn’t dream of doing to a loved one. Yet we still consider friendships necessary to our happiness.

Our wants from friendships regardless of age remain consistent. We want somebody to talk to, to depend on, and someone to have fun with.

The few people that we do manage to stay friends with for life, or at least for a significant chunk of it dedicate more than online communication. For others, the odd ‘like’, comment or event invite illudes us into thinking this is enough to keep our friendship alive. It would be impolite to demand more from our friends beyond this as they have other stuff going on in their lives.

We stop expecting much from them and leave it at that and pour our efforts into careers and families. All for the sake of politeness.

Even those who do stay single see their friendships deteriorate as people start coupling up. Sighting circumstance as the main reason for bringing an end to a friendship.

It’s sad we stop relying on our friends as much when we grow up, and what’s even more worrying is that within adult men, this can develop into a serious problem.

The lack of close friends has a significant impact on mental health, leaving us at risk of depression, anxiety and suicide.

As Men, we often think of ourselves as powerful beasts who never see the point of talking about our feelings. Pressures of work, relationships and financial struggles are kept inside.

In a recent YouGov poll over a quarter of men say they don’t have a close friend they can discuss severe life problems with. Instead, they resort to alcohol, illegal drugs and self-deprecation.

We’re also less likely to access psychological therapies, leaving many of us undiagnosed and not realising how shallow our relationships have become until we’re faced with significant life challenges. Such as the breakdown of a relationship, death in the family, fatherhood or even unemployment — all the times we need our friends the most.

Many of us are scared to discuss our feelings, which can lead to depression, anxiety, phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder or panic disorder. Worrying right?

So what can we do? We can start by talking. By talking, we can recognise and act on the warning signs. Blaming culture and the hierarchy of life is not an excuse and something we will regret if something happened.

One in eight of your male friends suffers from a common mental disorder. So try and be a better friend.

Get annoyed if they cancel on you or don’t get back to you about something. Text them back and meet up. It’s easier to talk about problems face-to-face, so just hang out, grab a cup of tea and talk. You could be saving a friend’s life.

Today (10 October) is World Mental Health Day. Meet up with a Friend.


The World Mental Health foundation is the UK’s leading mental health research charity, championing good mental health for all. To support our invaluable work in this area, text THRIVE to 70300 to give £3 or donate online.