I’m sure this is the excuse men have been waiting for… Going to the pub with good friends can benefit your mental health. And ladies, I know this might be a hard one to swallow but before you roll your eyes and dismiss the idea, hear it out.
A recent study, published in the journal Health Psychology and led by the Medical Research Council, focused on men aged 30-35 in the West of Scotland who drank in groups in pubs. Lead researcher, Dr Carol Emslie, conducted a survey in which she asked men about their drinking habits. She said: “The most surprising thing was the way drinking opened up a space for men to behave in alternative ways that aren’t associated with masculinity.”
In fact, the participants themselves brought up the fact that pub visits with friends benefited their mental health. Okay, I can hear the heckling from the ladies’ corner… and that’s probably because of the stereotype that men are strong, silent types… especially in terms of the latter when it comes to their mental health, which is something they typically shy away from talk about.
However, this wasn’t what the study found. One of the participants said: “You’re drinking together, you’re laughing and joking and it’s uplifting. It helps you to open up and relax.” Many of the participants said that it was a way of “looking out for each other” and that it presented an opportunity for men, who do not usually “open up”, to do so in the safety of a close-knit group of friends.
Suffice to say, men should still be encouraged to drink responsibly. While this study can certainly help us understand the more positive effects of enjoying alcohol it also informs of new approaches to reduce dangerous drinking levels.
Dr Emslie said that it is a delicate balance because there is a problematic side to alcohol but there is also the pleasure of socialising… and as this study indicates, it can be uplifting, positive, and a way to show concern within the community. She added: “We need to address the cultural side of drinking. We have to understand drinking is pleasurable, it’s sociable, it’s central to friendships.”
Of course, one can look at the positive things this study highlights and say women have been doing the exact same thing for years… meeting a few girlfriends at the pub, opening a bottle of Pinot Grigio and having a good gossip and a chat. Well, now we know men do the same… and well, it’s good for our mental health.
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Finally, an excuse! Going to the pub ‘boosts a man’s mental health’, published online 21.01.14, dailymail.co.uk