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Overlooking Men's Mental Health

Importance of mental health

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Maintaining a positive mental health and treating any mental health conditions is crucial to stabilizing constructive behaviours, emotions, and thoughts. Focusing on mental health care can increase productivity, enhance our self-image, and improve relationships. Nurturing mental health doesn’t just improve our daily functioning, but it can also help us control, or at least combat, some of the physical health problems directly linked to mental health conditions. For example, heart disease and stress are related, so managing stress might have a positive outcome on heart disease.

Ignorance towards men’s mental health

Men's mental health stigma is rooted in several factors such as myths about mental health, social norms, self-perception, and cultural beliefs. These stigmas can make it harder for men to access the help they need. While male mental health is often overlooked, the issue looms large. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, men are almost four times more likely to commit suicide than women.

Some of the social stigmas surrounding men’s mental health include men not wanting to talk about their feelings because they worry it might make them seem weak, or unable to handle daily stressors thrown their way. They may feel like their primary job is to be a provider for their family. Acknowledging that their mental health may be suffering may cause them to fear they are putting that role in jeopardy, or compare their success, or lack thereof, to their peers. Finally, men are often taught at an early age not to cry or express emotions. This socially imposed “norm” can compel men to feel shame when expressing emotion and may, bury their emotions or their desire to talk about them. The idea of “manhood” is constantly evolving. When men feel like they need to conform to these older stereotypes of masculinity, they may feel restricted when expressing or acknowledging their emotions. Therefore, men’s mental health might be overlooked as they try to hide their emotions, so no-one knows what they are going through, which makes it hard for anyone to help or realise the severity of their mental state.

There are also additional cultural stigmas when it comes to male mental wellness. In the Hispanic community, traditional male attitudes and gender roles are often described as machismo. This masculine construct can play a role in male mental health in that it emphasizes self-sufficiency, suppression of emotions and rigid dominance over the family. This can bar men from being open about their emotions and has even been linked to negative emotional consequences like depression and anxiety.

It’s time to put aside the stigmas that are often placed on men when it comes to taking care of their mental health. Society is realizing that reaching out for help is not a weakness, but a sign of strength. Whether you’re the one suffering from a mental health problem or you know someone else who is, it’s important not to suffer in silence. Reach out and get the support you need so you can start feeling better. Any male reading this who is struggling with their mental well-being, talk to someone. Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled. It isn't a sign of weakness. It's part of taking charge of your well being and doing what you can to stay healthy.

Role models

Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps has also been vocal about his struggle with depression, substance abuse, and past suicidal thoughts. Phelps was the first of several Olympic athletes to speak publicly about the Olympics and mental health.

Prince Harry has become an advocate for ending men’s mental health stigma, speaking publicly about his experiences healing from trauma, suffering panic attacks, coping with substance abuse, and finding therapy. His perspective is helping to elevate the stories of men (and women) around the world.

Hopefully, seeing these celebrities come out with their personal experiences with mental health inspires you to do the same and get the help you need to live a happy and fulfilled life.


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