Men's mental health and the stigma around it go a lot deeper than the usual layers of silence. Mental health is individual, it is different for different people. What might calm you might infuriate someone else and vice versa. Both men and women have difficulties when it comes to dealing with their mental wellness.
But, men are innately expected to ‘deal’ with it, while women are subjected to be fragile and weak. None of these ideologies has helped either of the two. Vulnerability is usually associated with weakness while in reality, it takes strength to open up your heart and mind to someone.
Men’s mental health is as serious of an issue as mental health in general. Men in our society are, sadly, conditioned to be ‘strong’. They are taught to “hold it all together”. While women are expected to cry and express their emotions, men on the other hand are expected to handle everything without losing it all.
Reasons for the stigma and silence around men’s mental health
Societal expectations and traditional gender roles are undeniably the topmost cause of men’s deteriorating mental health. This pushes them on the brink of their emotions and has severe impacts on their mental health.
The pressure to follow the traditional “masculine” characteristics of strength, control, and hiding one’s emotions are other strong reasons behind it.
Unable to express and share their mental wellness concerns, men receive way too little help in dealing with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other similar problems.
Men of color and diverse racial backgrounds experience more torment and humiliation and more likely to attempt suicide or be murdered by their white peers.
Some statistics around men’s mental health that raises the concerns
Men are less likely to attempt suicide as compared to women. But according to WHO, men are 3.5 times more likely to die from suicide as compared to women, especially in countries with high economies.
One in every nine men is diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) once in their lifetime.
A study published in Community Mental Health Journal, in 2016, in Canada concluded that out of the 360 people, more men felt embarrassed to seek professional help for depression.
6 million men in the US are affected by depression every year.
Major mental health problems affecting men:
Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions worldwide. Even though it is more common in women, men are more likely to hide or ignore their situation.
Depression in men usually goes unnoticed and undiagnosed. Men are more likely to report fatigue, irritability, or loss of interest in work or hobbies instead of accepting feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or hopelessness.
2. Anxiety disorders
Anxiety is something we all go through. It kicks in anytime and leaves this feeling of fear and worry. It is intense and uncontrollable. Around 3 million men have a panic disorder, agoraphobia, or any other phobia.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common type. It usually occurs with depression. Usually ignored, like depression, anxiety is a serious condition and it can have a severe impact on the way we live our lives and it also has a major impact on both our physical and mental health.
3. Bipolar disorders
Bipolar disorders affect around 2.3 million Americans. Both men and women develop the illness equally. However, it starts in men between 16 to 25 years.
This feels like abnormal levels of energy, insomnia, never-ending and racing thoughts, hypersexuality, and erratic speech. During the bipolar disorder, men are more likely to have co-occurring substance abuse symptoms.
4. Substance abuse
Substance abuse is another common cause of mental health issues in men. In almost all age groups, men are more susceptible to use and depend on illegal drugs than women. They are also more likely to die from an overdose.
This is evident from the NIAAA report that suggests that around 68,000 men die from substance and drug abuse as compared to the 27,000 women. Also, homosexual men are more likely to have higher rates of substance abuse as compared to heterosexual men.
Some other causes of mental health illness in men that raise serious concerns are eating disorders, racial and ethical discrimination, PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder), schizophrenia, and psychosis.
Signs and symptoms of mental health concern in men
The science behind male mental health is that the low level of testosterone leads to depressions, stress, and mood swings. This is more common among older men.
Hence, here are some of the symptoms you can look out for in men around you and lend a helping hand to those in need:
- Irrational anger and aggressiveness
- Difficulty in focusing
- Feeling sad, hopeless, num or emotionally low
- Aches, pains, or other physical symptoms without any cause
- Obsessive or compulsive behaviors
- Extreme mood swings or changes in energy levels
- Thinking of attempting to suicide
- Staying alone or preferring to corner themselves
- Drinking irresponsibly or drugs intake
All of these and many other signs that go against their usual behaviors are very much the symptoms to raise concern for the mental health of men around you.
What can you do to support men’s mental health?
Mental health issues can be successfully treated if diagnosed in time. No one has remained untouched from mental health illness. We all experience it at different stages of life. While it visits some of us frequently, for some of us it tends to stay a little longer.
Though men are reluctant to accept and seek help, as people who care for them, we ought to take the stand for them and help them on the road to recovery.
Some of the treatments or professional help methods you can use are psychotherapy, medication, peer support, and the most important of them all lifestyle changes.
Now that I have mentioned lifestyle changes, I’d like you all to go ahead and download our 360wellness app on your iOS or Android devices. Our app comes with the revolutionary 360wellness tracker that helps you keep a track of these lifestyle changes and hold you entitled for the same.
Remember, there's always someone out there you can help some way or the other. Yes, the stigma and silence are real but so is the existence of people like you and me who are keen to make mental health services more accessible to everyone.