A recent documentary followed Rio Ferdinand on an intimate journey after the sudden loss of his wife. The documentary dealt with his coming to terms with his emotions in a very open way, detailing his grief, and his eventual development into a single caregiver for his three children.

The documentary marked an important point in mainstream television: not only showing a high profile man at a time of emotional difficulty in a respectful light but also showing a man tackling the core issue of men not seeking support.

Men in our society are expected to show no emotions or vulnerability as they are perceived as signs of weakness. This is a core issue which sees high stigma around men’s emotions, most devastating is the impact this perceived weakness has on men seeking out counselling and talking therapy support. This is emphasised from youth in young men, and this means that they are unable to seek emotional support at a point in life which is vital for emotional development. This means that both youth and adult mental health services find that men do not access support at the same level as women.

But what difference would such services make on men’s experiences?

Counselling helps people to explore their emotions and difficulties in a safe and supportive environment. A competent counsellor can help provide people with the tools and coping techniques to bring about positive life changes. Counselling is based on trust, respect, and safety. Many people find that being able to talk to a non-judgemental and separate individual allows them to open up and work through their emotions, rather than bottling them up.

However, the number of men seeking out counselling is significantly lower than women. While cultural changes marked by media representations of men seeking emotional support like in Rio’s story, more needs to be done.

So, how can counselling services make an impact on men seeking out support?

At NCS, our counselling services are based around individual needs, we work with a diverse range of presenting issues, and do not require outside referral. The discrete nature of our administrative process and location, allows clients to feel that they are in a safe environment. Beyond this, our counselling workforce is very diverse, with 1 out of 6 of all clinicians being from non-white backgrounds. We also have a higher percentage of male counsellors to the national gender averages in practicing counsellors.

Through creating a welcoming and discreet environment, we have found that 40% of our clients are male, and this is growing annually. We hope to keep refining our service and approach to allow for counselling to be as inclusive and accessible as possible. We hope that in the coming years, important stories like that of Rio will have a huge impact on the discussion of men seeking emotional support.

“I came to NCS with mixed expectations, having had counselling in various places before and felt that it had limited effect. However, from very early on in my counselling relationship, I felt comfortable and able to disclose and discuss things that I would not ordinarily have the space to do in my ordinary life.


As a man in a culture where, as mentioned in the article, any sign of emotion is considered weakness; it was difficult to be open and honest with how I feel, therefore I felt stressed and alone for long periods of my early life. NCS changed my perception of emotional honesty and developed a sense of self-belief and worth that was not easy to uncover but has been a worthwhile experience that has grounded me and made me feel more rounded as a person.

Counselling is a vitally important service, one which needs to have a perceived stigma removed within the male communities in the UK as a whole. All my problems were handled with sensitivity and care that allowed me to explore my feelings and retain a sense of balance. I would implore anyone who is struggling to seek out help, especially from NCS as they are a service that cares from top to bottom.”

 -Satisfied client 13 04 2017

By Leslie McDonald