Is men's mental health valued enough in society?
Maintaining good mental health is an issue that everyone faces, and is affected by differently. It's important However, men’s mental health has always been a taboo subject. Within society, it seems men have been conditioned to deal with their problems on their own and not communicate them with others. Cultural expectations and stereotypes around masculinity can make it difficult for men to express vulnerability or seek help for mental health issues, whether this be talking to family, friends, or even professional help, there is a stigma regarding men talking about their issues. This has led to the stereotype within society that men need to be tough, independent, and unemotional. Men don’t cry is what we were told. The problem is the pressure men face from not just society and themselves to provide has never been higher, and yet the stigma surrounding mental health is only growing. Millions of men, all around the world are affected every day and it needs to be spoken about more.
What affects a man's mental health?
One of the biggest factors that affect a man’s mental health and well-being is the stigma surrounding the subject. Men often face stigma surrounding mental health, which can discourage them from seeking help and lead to feelings of shame and isolation. This isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression, which only worsens the longer it goes on. Breaking down this stigma is crucial to create a more supportive and inclusive environment for men's mental health.
When reading into men’s suicide rates the figures were heart-breaking. Men have a higher suicide rate than women, in fact in 2021 suicide rates between the two genders were 4:1 meaning men are 4 times as likely to commit suicide than women. This shows that mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are often contributing factors that are not valued enough in society. There is most definitely a lack of awareness, and many people still don’t fully understand mental health issues, especially their prevalence, and impact. This can lead to a lack of recognition of the importance of men’s mental health, which delays diagnosis and treatment. Also, the barriers men face regarding health care, such as a lack of mental health services, and of course, the stigma surrounding them all play a part. Men feel so bad for asking for help that they only see one way out. This should never be the case, something needs to change.
How can we change this?
There are several things that can help improve male mental health and reduce anxiety. Here are a few suggestions:
Encourage open communication: Encourage men to talk about their feelings and emotions more, whether this is talking to family, friends, or even therapists. Just talking and getting those thoughts out will help men understand their own thoughts and feelings and reduce the stigma around mental health issues.
Exercise: Participating in physical activity regularly, even if it's just a short walk or some stretching releases the endorphin dopamine which has been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety and depression.
Healthy diet: A balanced and healthy diet can also help improve mental health. This means eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
Sleep: Good quality sleep is essential for overall mental health, so establishing a consistent sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine will positively affect mental health.
Seek professional help: If anxiety or other mental health issues persist, men should be encouraged to seek professional help from a mental health provider. Therapy and medication are effective treatments for anxiety and other mental health conditions.
Reduce stress: Men face pressure from all angles, whether that be from family, work, society, or themselves. Finding ways to reduce stress in their lives will help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. There are many ways to do this, such as practising relaxation techniques like meditation or even just remembering to take a break every once in a while.
While there has been some progress in recognising the importance of male mental health, there is still work to be done to value and support men's mental health in society fully. This involves increasing awareness, reducing stigma, improving access to care, promoting a more open and supportive culture around mental health, and most importantly talking to each other. Just starting a conversation with someone about mental health can have a huge impact. Communication can save lives, so even if you’re feeling fine, always remember to check up on your friends and family.