Do the men in your family chicken out when it's time for a health check-up, giving excuses like “don’t have time” or “it’s a waste of money” or “the doctor doesn’t know anything”? Then, they are not alone because, according to a new study, even men with chronic physical illnesses are less likely to use mental health services compared to women with the same conditions.

The study conducted by St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, found that not only are women more proactive in seeking out medical services, but they also do it earlier than men. In this study, women with chronic physical illnesses approached health services six months before men did. "Chronic physical illness can lead to depression," said Dr. Flora Matheson, a scientist in the hospital's Centre for Research on Inner City Health, in a press release. "We want to better understand who will seek mental health services when diagnosed with a chronic physical illness so we can best help those who need care."

The men and women who were screened sought help for at least one of these four illnesses: diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Research findings showed women who were diagnosed with at least one of these conditions were 10 percent more likely to use mental health services than men. Furthermore, within any three-year period, women with physical illness used medical services for mental health treatment six months earlier than men.

"Our results don't necessarily mean that more focus should be paid to women, however," Matheson said, "we still need more research to understand why this gender divide exists." The mental health service use was defined as one visit to a physician or specialist for mental health reasons, such as depression, anxiety, smoking addiction, or marital difficulties. The findings do not suggest that all men may be lax toward their problems. While some may have inhibitions seeking help for psychological problems, the gender discrepancy could also mean that symptoms may be worse in women than in men.

Though previous studies have shown there is a stark difference in the number of times men and women use health care services. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data (CDC) report, women are 100 percent more likely to seek preventive health care than men.

Considering that men, according to the CDC, are 1.5 times more likely than women to die from heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases, and on an average they die five years earlier than women, it's about time they stop making excuses and head to the doctor.

Source: Matheson F, Smith KLW, Fazli GS, Moineddin R, Dunn JR, Glazier RH. British Medical Journal's Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. 2014.