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Man Up: The Portrayal of Men's Mental Health

Content Warning: This article discusses topics of mental illness, suicide and alcohol abuse which could be distressing to some readers

Mental health problems are experienced by 1 in 4 people, and 1 in 8 men. So, the ignorance towards men’s mental health in today’s society and media must be explored. The wide range of causes of mental health problems, from work related stress to lack of sleep, shows anyone can be impacted.

Stereotypes and expectations

The question ‘Why don’t men talk about mental health?’ may lead to an explanation of the lack of recognition for men’s mental health. Gender stereotypes for men often present them to be strong, dominant and in control. This belief makes it difficult for men to admit they need help and open up, as it would challenge their masculinity.

Though these stereotypes have been prevalent in history, there is sparse records of male psychological and emotional disorders. Therefore, the silence surrounding men’s emotion and mental health has a long history.

These socially constructed masculine traits have remained dominant in the developed western world. The values aligning with the “stiff upper lip” continue to impact men today, with there being an obvious ignorance to their mental health issues.

As men often find it difficult to reach out for help, they are less likely to talk to friends or family about their struggles. This can lead them to using more harmful methods such as drugs or alcohol.

Coping with alcohol can become alcohol abuse which is often related to suicide. Therefore, highlighting the importance of acknowledging men who are struggling and providing them with the right coping mechanisms.

What is male Depression?

While depression can be experienced by any gender, people often have different familiarities with it. Particularly, men may have symptoms including anger, irritability, risk-taking, loss of control or aggressiveness.

While these are some behavioural signs and symptoms, men often acknowledge the physical aspects of depression more than the psychological. Thus, suggesting men, themselves often ignore their emotions, focusing on their physical traits.

Causes of depression

Every person, no matter their gender, experiences a unique set of circumstances which can cause a mental health problem such as depression.

Life events, death of a family member, losing your job or divorce, can be challenging to a person and can there for lead to depression. Also, ongoing issues such as abuse or stress at work can also be a cause.

Some people may have a personality that is prone to depression, this could be if a person worries or is a perfectionist. An event does not have to occur for someone to develop a mental health problem.

Not every person develops depression for a reason. There can be no obvious cause, but the experience of depression is still completely valid.

A mans income and his wellbeing

Financial issues can often be related to a person’s mental health and wellbeing. One study found that the relationship between income and mental health is U-shaped, suggesting beyond a turning point, even with increasing money, there are mental health costs.

This can present how money can impact a person’s mental health, no matter what side of the spectrum they are on.

Support for those who are suffering

No matter your situation, there are a wide range of resources you can access. There is the option of talking therapies, going to your GP, accessing local mental health charities, and even just talking to a person you trust. Treatments can include medication, psychotherapy or the combination of both. You could also engage in self-help techniques such as meditation, yoga, eating healthy and exercising.

The first step for men who are struggling is to go against those stereotypes and reach out. Ensuring everyone, including men, and their mental health struggles are recognised is an important part of making speaking out easier.


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