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Pint in pub with friends good for men's mental health, study says

Drinking socially with friends is good for a man's mental well-being, according to new research in the West of Scotland.

Alcohol

A pint in the pub with friends is good for a man's mental health, a new study has revealed.

The research revealed that men drinking with friends in the pub reported positive effects on their mental well-being.

Sharing a round of drinks also helped them look out for each other and lift their spirits, according to research in the West of Scotland.

Allowing them to open up and talk about their emotions, traditionally a masculine taboo in Scotland.

However the study also acknowledges the dangers that buying rounds encouraged men to drink more, with many of those questioned consuming harmful amounts of alcohol.

It is hoped that the findings will help inform new approaches to reduce dangerous drinking levels, while understanding the more positive effects of alcohol.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) study, Drinking Attitudes in Midlife (DrAM) focused on men aged 30-35 who drank in groups in pubs.

One of the men in the study said it was good for people who did not usually "open up" to do so under the influence of alcohol as if they did not it could mean they would "unravel in a big way."

Some of the men were aware of the problems linked to drinking, but tried to minimise these in contrast to the benefits for their mental wellbeing.

Researcher Dr Carol Emslie asked about drinking habits and was surprised they said pub visits benefited their mental health.

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.

"There was the idea if you've had a few drinks it really helps you to express emotion in a way you might not in your everyday life."I did not ask about mental health, this they raised themselves.

"There is a stereotype that men are strong and silent about their mental health and it is something they never talk about.

"This wasn't what we found. It was very much the idea that alcohol or drinking in these communal groups had this positive effect on your mental health.

"You're drinking together, you're laughing and joking and it's uplifting. It helps you to open up and relax. Also men talked about it being a way of looking out for each other."

Dr Emslie, now based at Glasgow Caledonian University said the findings should help to tackle harmful drinking while acknowledging the positives.

She is now involved in a study where health messages related to alcohol will be texted to men, including using more light-hearted approaches such as cartoons.

"It is a delicate balance because we have got this problematic side with alcohol," she added."But also there is the pleasure and what men talked about as being uplifting, crucial, natural and positive, and a way to show concern and friendship to other men.

"We need to address the cultural side of drinking. We have to understand drinking is pleasurable, it's sociable, it's central to friendships.

"If you ignore that part of it then you are not understanding the context in which people drink.

"The way men talked about looking after each other is something we could build on in terms of interventions."A

Scottish Government spokesman said: "The government is supportive of well run pubs where people can enjoy socialising with friends and family. However the research highlights the need to address high levels of drinking by middle-aged men."

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