How having a purpose in life can bolster men’s mental health

Despite growing awareness about the high rates of suicide among men, research is still needed to examine men’s mental health challenges. Existential psychology, with its focus on questions of meaning and value, may bring new insights that can aid in this examination. To better understand men’s psychological well-being, a recent study by researchers at McGill University and the University of British Columbia investigated the prospective connection between the presence of meaning in life and psychological distress among men.

This study of 364 male participants found that those who reported experiencing a greater sense of meaning in their lives were less likely to experience general psychological strain (including depressive and anxiety symptoms). The study went further by investigating two implicated key factors: resilience and loneliness. By examining these factors, the study determined that not only does a greater sense of existential meaning contribute directly to reduced psychological distress, but it also does so indirectly through enhancing resilience and lessening loneliness.

These results suggest that designing and implementing psychotherapeutic interventions to enhance the meaning in men’s lives could bolster their resilience, combat loneliness, and ultimately reduce psychological distress. Next steps in research include identifying the deepest sources of meaning for men across the lifespan.

“In a shifting and increasingly fragmented cultural landscape, greater attention needs to be paid to the existential states of meaning and meaninglessness to support and improve men’s mental health,” says Tyler Brown, a Postdoctoral Fellow in McGill’s Department of Family Medicine and lead author of the study.

The influence of meaning in life on psychological distress among men: A serial multiple mediation model involving resilience and loneliness” by Tyler L. Brown et al. was published in Current Research in Behavioral Sciences.

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