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Addressing The Stigma Around Men and Mental Health

The stigma around men's mental health

Mental illness is a medical problem which involves changes in a person's emotions, behaviour or thoughts. Mental illness can be brought on by various factors such as being distressed or problems within social, work or family life. Some examples of mental illnesses include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and drug addiction disorders.

Our mental health and well-being is definitely something that should be taken seriously within our everyday lives and routines. A person's mental health is the foundation for emotions, thoughts, communication, learning, resilience, hope and self-esteem. Mental health plays a big contribution towards our overall well-being and can affect physical health too.

In our modern society, more and more people are beginning to acknowledge mental health and the surrounding issues, however, when discussing issues relating to men's mental health this sometimes still holds a negative stigma. It is important to address these issues and why it is that men who suffer from mental health issues, often feel that they cannot access support from family, friends or medical professionals.

Why do men not talk about mental health?

Statistics show that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England. Mental health is something that is an extremely common problem, however, negative connotations and gender roles within our society mean that men often suppress their mental health issues as they fear they may be portrayed as ‘weak’ and not ‘real men’ for showing their emotions. It is also shown that mental health issues are more likely to be addressed and reported more by women than men. In 2015, the most common cause of death for men under the age of 35 was suicide.

The Priory Group found that within a poll, 77% of men explained that they had experienced some level of symptoms for mental health problems such as anxiety, stress or depression. Respondents commented on what they felt were the biggest pressures in their lives. The top three most common issues were:

  • Work-related pressure: 32%

  • Financial pressures: 31%

  • Health concerns- 23%

Recognising the signs of mental health issues

Within mental health the symptoms do not differentiate between men and women. If you believe you or someone else may be suffering from mental health issues, these are some common signs to consider:

  • Persistent worry

  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness

  • Withdrawal from friends and family

  • Feeling fatigued

  • Sleep problems

  • Irritability

What can you do?

If you believe that you are struggling with your mental health and well-being, it is important to recognise this and that you are going to have to take the first step towards getting yourself help and bettering your mental state. If you feel that you are experiencing any kind of mental health issues, it is important to remember that you are certainly not alone even if you may feel that you are, know that there are always ways to find help.

Beginning to help yourself can include making small changes to your lifestyle which can impact on how you feel day-to-day. Some of these ideas can help improve your mood such as:

  • Trying some relaxation techniques: breathing exercises and meditation can be great ways to feel more relaxed and battle with anxiety. Apps such as Headspace, provide guided meditations that help with mental health issues.

  • Be more active: exercise is a great way to release positive endorphins into your body.

  • Reduce alcohol intake: alcohol can actually increase stress and anxiety issues and also impact sleep patterns, all creating negative impacts on your mood.

Reaching out to people that you trust such as friends and family members may be hard at first, try and speak up about how you have been feeling and this way people may be able to advise you on what to do next or even offer solutions on what you can do to access help.

Speaking to a GP is also one of the best places to start if you feel that you are struggling with your mental health. They are there to provide you with the support and advice that you need and can offer their expertise on potential treatment options if this is what you may need.

So, next time that someone you know seems or expresses that they are feeling down, or you yourself feel that you may be having mental health problems, remember that mental health affects everyone regardless of gender or age and that you should speak out.


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