The month is June is set aside to raise awareness of issues surrounding men’s mental health. For a long time, not much attention was paid to the subject, but with advancements in psychology, medicine, psychiatry, wellness, spiritual consciousness, and more, much-needed attention is being funneled to the cause.
Men’s mental health is an important issue that is often overlooked or ignored. Many men struggle with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, stress, and substance abuse, but they may not seek help or talk about their feelings. This can have serious consequences for their well-being and quality of life.
With our elaborate celebration of Father’s Day, it is only pertinent to talk about a crucial aspect of men’s existence; their mental health. We hope you not only enjoy this article, but learn the lessons it contains, and seek help (if you need it).
Some of the factors that affect men’s mental health include:
- Societal expectations and stereotypes pressure men to be strong, dominant, and in control and discourage them from expressing emotions or vulnerability.
- Lack of awareness and recognition of the signs and symptoms of mental health problems in men, which may differ from those in women.
- Stigma and shame are associated with mental illness, which may prevent men from admitting they have a problem or reaching out for support.
- Limited availability and accessibility of mental health services that are tailored to men’s needs and preferences and that are culturally sensitive and inclusive.
- Higher rates of risk-taking behaviors such as alcohol and drug misuse, violence, and even suicide, may be used as coping mechanisms or expressions of distress.
Here are some common misconceptions about men’s mental health:
Men do not face any mental health issues. They are mentally stronger.
This is a false and harmful stereotype that ignores the reality and diversity of men’s experiences. Men can and do suffer from various mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, etc. Men are also more likely to die by suicide than women.
Most male suicide is linked to depression.
This is also not accurate. While depression is a risk factor for suicide, most male suicides are not linked to a mental health diagnosis1. Instead, they are often associated with various distressing life events, such as relationship breakdown, financial problems, legal issues, bereavement, etc.
Men are less likely to seek help for mental health issues.
This is not entirely true. While men may face more barriers and stigma to access mental health services, especially at a young age1, many men do seek help when they need it. According to the Australia Bureau of Statistics, the number of men with mental disorders who visit a psychologist is almost identical to women.
Men don’t have many positive coping strategies.
This is another myth that overlooks the diverse and adaptive ways that men cope with their mental health challenges. Men use a range of strategies to keep themselves feeling okay, such as eating healthy food, keeping busy, exercising, using humour, helping others, spending time with pets, accepting sad feelings, achieving something, etc.
Mental health issues are a result of personality weakness or character flaws.
This is a damaging misconception that blames and shames men for their mental health problems. Mental health issues are not a sign of weakness or failure. They are complex and multifactorial conditions that can affect anyone regardless of their gender, age, race, culture, or background. They are influenced by biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors.
To improve men’s mental health, we need to:
- Challenge the harmful norms and stereotypes that prevent men from seeking help or opening up about their mental health.
- Educate men and their families, friends, and communities about the signs and symptoms of mental health problems in men, and how to support them.
- Provide more options and opportunities for men to access mental health care that is convenient, confidential, affordable, and effective.
- Promote positive coping skills and healthy lifestyles among men, such as physical activity, social connection, relaxation, and hobbies.
- Encourage men to share their stories and experiences with mental health and to support each other.
Men’s mental health matters. It affects not only men themselves but also their loved ones and society as a whole. By raising awareness and taking action, we can help men live happier and healthier lives.