Why is there still ignorance towards men's mental health?
A study conducted in 2017 revealed that over 75% of suicides are committed by men. Most men believe that negative stigma influence their lives, not only from society but also by family, friends and employers. This stigma is extremely difficult to overcome as there is constant discrimination and ignorance towards men. Historically, men with mental illnesses were perceived as aggressive, dangerous and unpredictable. As generations have evolved there seems to be no dent within this perception.
The Involvement within day-to-day activities such as socialising, making friends, keeping fit and holding down a job is extremely difficult for men with mental health issues. Many men constantly think they will be looked down upon and treated differently by their peers which is why they remain silent. They are wired into believing they should not show emotion as they will be labelled as weak. But they are not weak, they are ill.
Suicide and depression are ranked as a leading cause of death among men, yet they’re still far less likely to seek mental health treatment than women.
The model of masculinity may be the reason men are likely to suffer with symptoms of depression. The model is made to believe that men should remain strong and quiet. Traditionally more masculine traits can increase rates of depression - as men are ashamed to call out for help, it often leads to drug misuse and becomes their coping mechanism.
How can we try to prevent this stigma?
Many mental health campaigns have emerged in order to raise awareness and encourage men to speak up about their mental health, however research has shown that campaigns do not appeal towards the a male audience.
The Duke of Cambridge recently opened up about mental health struggles to footballers within the premier league and "Time to Change" campaigns that is centred around boxers and rugby players. This is an obvious message stating that men need to talk more about their mental health, unfortunately not all men can relate to to these sports. Are we just stereotyping men?
Research conducted by the Man Therapy Mental Health Campaign located in America has stated that rather than sport, men respond better to humour and mental health language that is considered softer. When the right campaign is put into place the negative stigma slowly reduces and more male figures speak about their mental health issues. However there still remains a significant number of men who feel they cannot engage in campaigns or speak to professionals of friends about their symptoms. Catering the right campaign to each type of audience will improve this negative stigma. Yes it is a consuming process that may not be realistic to do but making a start could save many lives.
As gender norms are changing, e.g an increase of stay-at-home fathers who are wanting to spend more time with their families and receive dual household incomes. This is all becoming the norm, however the old stigma and believes are still hard to break and forget. This then results in men still being negatively tired to mental health outcome. Fortunately, as time continuously evolves, more public examples of modern leadership utilizing vulnerability and transparency as a tool have emerged and therefore, perceptions have changed overtime.
Within a workplace, there are many ways tentacle men's mental health. Researching ways to tackle the stigma around discussing mental health that doesn’t discourage men from getting the help they need is essential.
This may begin with leaders promoting and encouraging conversations related to 'tough stuff' reassuring employees they will not experience discrimination for speaking openly within the workplace. Leaders should ensure they feel supported. This conversation allows men to focus less on financial and career repercussions they may experience, and more on getting the help they need.
We are all human. we are no different. We all need help. Let's make a change to make more men feel