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How can we Stop the Stigma around Men's Mental Health?

CW: This article discusses topics of suicide and mental health issues. If this is distressing for you, please do not read it.

Mental health affects one in four adults and one in ten children. You are bound to know and care for people who are suffering from mental health issues. As mental health is being more socially acceptable in society, the stigma around men speaking out about their mental health is becoming a frequently discussed topic in the media. Men aged 40 to 49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK. In 2017 nearly 6000 suicides were recorded in Great Britain however 75% of these were men. These are worrying statistics, but why is this the case?

Why don't men talk about mental health?

The traditional gender roles that society has drilled into our minds have damaging consequences for males and females. It is displayed a lot in the media that gender stereotypes of women can be damaging; for example, the pressure that they need to look a certain way and meet certain requirements to fulfill beauty standards can have negative effects on their mental health. However, the pressure that men are supposed to act and behave as being strong, confident, dominant, and the breadwinners can have massive impacts on them, even if it is not discussed as much. Some common phrases that are used to push men into traditional gender roles are 'boys don't cry' and 'man up'; these perfectly summarise the issue. It prevents them to reach out for help. Research also shows that men are more likely to use harmful coping mechanisms, such as drugs and alcohol, instead of reaching out for help. This leads to a negative cycle of alcohol/drug abuse to help to suppress these emotions.

How can social media raise awareness of men's mental health issues?

Social media has so much power in today's generation due to the amount of time people spend on their devices. Although traditional gender roles were visible before social media was introduced, it can be seen as a catalyst for really enforcing these strong ideas of gender. An unfortunate suicide that raised awareness in the media about men's mental health was the death of former Love Islander, Mike Thalassitis. Mike took his own life in 2019 due to depression and drug abuse. Mike's death was significant in terms of the impact that social media can have on an individual's life. After Mike's death, his family stated that they never knew Mike was struggling with depression. This is worrying and a lot of men will feel the same as Mike, that they have nobody to speak to and that suicide is the only option left.

Although it is easy to write a social media post and try to encourage men to speak out, however with the current history of men speaking out in the media and receiving backlash it is understandable why they would not want to. Prince Harry has recently written his own book called Spare. In Spare Prince Harry is speaking out, in the book he shares detailed information about his struggle with grief. After Spare was released Prince Harry received a lot of backlash. This shows that the stigma for men to be strong and suppress their emotions is still very much present.

Common mental health problems

Men and women both experience mental health problems however there is a noticeable difference between the both. Women are more likely to experience mental health problems than men, however, this may be because men do not go and seek help so the amount of men struggling is not an appropriate number. Women are also more likely to attempt suicide however men are more than 3.5 times more likely to die from suicide. This may be because they tend to use more lethal weapons. Men are a lot less likely than women to seek treatment for issues such as depression, substance abuse, and stressful life events. This may be due to social norms and the pressures of being a strong breadwinner.

To conclude...

I feel like men's mental health as a whole is being spoken about in the media more and more, however, we still have a very long way to go to improve it. If you are a man reading this and you would like some advice on your mental health here are some contact details to help you. With this being said it is now time for you to reflect as a reader, what do you believe can be done to improve men's mental health?

Eva Rogers.


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