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Family Ties: Marriage, Divorce, and the Mental Health of Men and Boys

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Men’s Issues and Men’s Mental Health

Abstract

The category of single men is an umbrella term including men who are never married, widowed, separated, or divorced. Research indicates that single men have more mental health issues than married men, but that divorced and separated men are at the highest risk of adverse mental health outcomes including suicide, substance use disorder, and depression. This risk is greater than that seen in divorced or separated women, implying that divorce and separation can be particularly harmful for men. This gender differential has been attributed to several factors including separation from children following a divorce, an intense decrease in social support, and a lack of services and supports for divorced or separated men. Moreover, separation and divorce are severe life events that can harm the mental health of affected children, particularly boys. Evidence suggests that boys raised in fatherless families are at risk of negative psychosocial outcomes, while single-father households may confer protection. This indicates that the absence of masculine influence in the home is harmful to offspring mental health. Trends indicate that a substantial and growing number of people are divorcing and living alone, while there has been a large growth in single-mother households. This may negatively affect community mental health.

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Whitley, R. (2021). Family Ties: Marriage, Divorce, and the Mental Health of Men and Boys. In: Men’s Issues and Men’s Mental Health. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-86320-3_9

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