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Stigma Against Men's Mental Health: A Problem of Men or a Social Problem?

An examination of discrimination and rejection in relation to the mental health of men.

Men's mental health stigma is still disregarded, unaddressed, and silently perches in society's background. Stigma is important because it often has two dimensions: internal stigma and external stigma. Internal stigma is the term for the stigmatised person's personal sentiments of shame and worthlessness, which frequently cause social retreat and low self-esteem. External stigma refers to unfavourable opinions and prejudiced perceptions that are held by a large population and frequently cause rejection and subsequent discrimination. Men, especially in 2023 feel as though they are not allowed to speak up and the essence of masculinity is now viewed as toxic as men within the Western society are nudged by the media and social media into becoming more feminine however, This narrow focus can sometimes descend into a victim-blaming discourse. As such, it is important to broaden the focus to consider external stigma by examining negative attitudes and prejudicial stereotypes elsewhere in society

Men’s mental health stigma within the family

Although men face pressures outside of the family to a large degree, the immediate family can be an important source of support and solace for people with mental illness. Even so, evidence indicates that some family members may view mental illness as a source of shame that harms the reputation of the family. In an effort to avoid obtaining care, this may result in denial or concealment attempts of the mental illness, that being said- within my own personal experience these traits are amplified within ethnic households, putting more pressure amongst their spouse.

Parents, children, and even spouses can be complicit in this silence, which may be particularly intense if the family member was a man. For example, husbands with mental illness frequently reported negative and unsympathetic comments from their wives. This was especially so if the mental illness interfered with the man’s bread-winning abilities, leading some wives to question his masculinity, many men hear the phrases "Are you a man" or "Man up", when faced with a bad turn of luck, without understanding the psychological implications of such words..

Men’s mental health stigma in the media

While articles about males with mental illness had more stigmatising information and made connections between men's mental illness and crime and violence, those about women with mental illness tended to be more upbeat and sympathetic. This is a significant discovery because negative media representations of males with mental illness might foster a generalised fear of them, which discourages people from seeking assistance. For instance, males may reasonably worry that if they disclose mental health difficulties, their relatives, acquaintances, and coworkers will label them as violent criminals. Buzz words within the media such as "toxic masculinity" coupled with phrases such as "sassy men", make it difficult for men to act as men without being threatened by the public eye of the media leaving men not understanding their place within society. the concept, sometimes unaware of its origins, tend to agree that men and boys are affected by a social “sickness” and that the cure is cultural renewal—that is, men and boys need to change their values and attitudes. Men are being told to suppress their toughness, antifeminity and power, instead of redirecting it into useful action, causing men to be lazy and as a result weaker, gaining unhealthy habits and therefore negatively impacting their mental health.

What can we do to help?

We need to approach men's mental health with an open mind. discussions of men's mental health frequently have a limited perspective, concentrating on the supposedly silent and obstinate nature of men with mental health problems. Evidence, however, indicates that it is crucial to broaden this lens in order to comprehend the larger societal environment in which men's mental health difficulties occur. Due to external stigmas and social preconceptions propagated by various groups, such as healthcare professionals, family members, the media, and other facets of society, males may remain mute in the face of mental illness. This external stigma needs to be acknowledged and addressed if we are serious about addressing the challenges related to men's mental health.


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