CW : This article discusses topics of mental illness and suicide which could be distressing to some readers.
Ignorance towards men's mental help is stopping them from getting the help they deserve and it needs to be stopped.
77% of men polled in a survey have suffered with common mental health symptoms including anxiety, stress, or depression.
6 million men are affected by depression in the US every year.
Men are 2 to 3 times more likely to misuse drugs compared to women.
40% of men say they have never spoke to anyone about their mental health struggles and 29% say this is due to being too embarrassed.
Men have measurably lower access to the social support of friends, relatives, and community.
Mental health stigma
Generally speaking, there is an immense stigma surrounding mental health, people are ignorant when it comes to this topic and think they know the ways to solve feeling down without having the proper skill or knowledge about this topic.
But, this ignorance grows when it comes to male mental illness. Men have been wired to believe they can't show emotion, so admitting to needing help for some of them would be seen as failure.
Over years the stigma surrounding mental health has slowly decreased, however for males this is still a lengthy on-going battle that they face daily. As stated above 29% of men polled in a recent survey have never spoken about their mental health struggles due to being embarrassed, this is due to the stigma which they face surround this topic.
You may have heard of the phrases "man up", "men don't cry", "don't be a girl" which have been thrown around for years signalling that only women are the ones which suffer with mental illnesses.
Because of these phrases men face the pressure of always being strong, being the money maker of the family, taking charge, but it is believed that 1 in 8 men have common mental health problems.
So the stigma needs to be stopped. There's no such thing as "men don't cry" "toughen up and be a man" because everyone equally can suffer no matter their age, gender, or race.
Depression and suicide are ranked as the leading cause of death among men, yet this still suffer when it comes to receiving the help they deserve.
Toxic masculinity is defined as a cultural concept of manliness that glorifies strength, virility, and dominance, and that is socially maladaptive or harmful to mental health.
Commonly emotion is not seen to be a valuable trait for men and this is typically associated with females.
Due to this, men are more likely to suppress their emotions and struggles from the fear of lacking in strength and dominance, which makes them reluctant to seek the help they need.
We need to remember that showing vulnerability and emotions doesn't make you weak or any less of a man it makes you human.
The problem we face is how do we replace this learnt notion in which many people have grown up around?
Campaigns must be inclusive
Over the previous 5 years, more males have been open about their mental health struggles and more campaigns targeted at males have been produced.
These campaigns are providing the clear message that males should speak up about their mental health struggles. But are these being inclusive to all males or just a small handful?
Predominantly, these campaigns are surround sports players or sporting events, so is this at a risk of stereotyping men even more?
We need to stop the stereotyping as well as the stigma in order for men to get the help they need and deserve. Engage them. Use softer language. Humour. Be inclusive.
When should I ask for help?
There is a wide array of hotlines and websites which can help you if you are ever experiencing any problems with your mental health.
If you're worried about yourself or someone else here are a few symptoms which you may notice.
- Mood change
- Weight change
- Difference in appearance
- Feeling tired/fatigue
- Increased substance use
If you believe yourself or a loved one are suffering from 1 or more of these symptoms these helplines along with others are available to seek the help needed. Furthermore, it is recommended to emphasise that getting help is a sign of strength and never weakness.
It is important for us to understand that no one age group, race, or gender can be the only ones affected by mental illnesses. Unfortunately, they're becoming increasingly more common, but reducing the stigma and emphasising to men that they can ask for help from anyone may help those high percentages stated above reduce.
If you have been affected by any of the issues stated above, please do not hesitate to get the help you need by clicking the link above.