Psychologists warn of greater risk to men from drought stress

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The Australian Psychological Society (APS) is warning that men are at greater risk from the stress of the drought affecting most of Australia, because of their reluctance to ask for help.

“Many men in drought affected areas feel they are failing their families. This leads to feelings of shame and the risk is that they will act on that shame. This increased risk of suicide is something the community must take seriously,” said Dr Bob Montgomery, Director, APS.

"Research has clearly identified a sense of hopelessness as one of the strongest risk factors for attempting suicide. The evidence further shows that, in general, men develop their self-esteem through their role as breadwinner. When factors absolutely outside their control, such as drought, impact on this ability to be in control of that role, men may become depressed – which puts both the man and his family at risk.

“It is crucial that anyone who thinks that they, or someone they know, is a suicide risk should seek professional help as soon as possible.”

Dr Montgomery also says the stress of the drought may have an impact on the ability of men in rural areas to care for their physical health.

"Men tend not to look after themselves properly and at times of stress this gets worse. The stress caused by the drought may mean men ignore symptoms of physical illness. This is another issue everyone needs to be aware of to try and minimise the adverse effects of the drought.”

The APS runs a free referral service for the public.

Call 1800 333 497 or visit the Find a Psychologist website to find a psychologist in any area in Australia.


For more information or to arrange an interview with Dr Montgomery:

Elaine Grant
Communications Manager
Australian Psychological Society
03 8662 3300