Pub trips could improve mens mental health

15 January 2014

GCUs Dr Carol Emslie is head of the Substance Use and Misuse group in the Institute for Applied Health Research

GCUs Dr Carol Emslie is head of the Substance Use and Misuse group in the Institute for Applied Health Research

Having a pint with mates in the pub could help boost men’s mental health as it enables drinkers to support each other and open up emotionally, according to a Medical Research Council-funded study.

However the paper ‘The Role of Alcohol in Forging and Maintaining Friendships Amongst Scottish Men in Midlife’ by GCU’s Dr Carol Emslie also warns that the close interweaving of alcohol with male friendship could lead to excessive drinking and health damage.

Dr Emslie, head of the Substance Use and Misuse group in the Institute for Applied Health Research, said health promotion experts needed to be sensitive to the role drinking in the pub with friends plays in middle-aged men’s lives if they wanted to address the high rates of drinking in this age group.

“Our study found that men in midlife understood drinking with friends in the pub as a vital part of creating and maintaining male friendships. They felt that it helped them to talk to each other, provided social support and improved their mood. It was seen as an acceptable way to show concern and friendship for other men.

“A central issue in applied health research is to identify more effective ways to promote healthier lifestyles. Studies such as this one provide insight and understanding into how perceiving drinking as an “act of friendship” can lead to both health-damaging - excessive drinking - and potentially health-promoting - sharing emotions and supporting others - behaviours.”

The study was published in the journal Health Psychology.