Due to society's expectations and traditional gender stereotypes men are less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health. Stereotypes are reinforced frequently and are introduced at a young age. For instance, a young boy being told to "be a man" and that "boys don't cry".
Men are often expected to be the providers and are physically and mentally strong and dominant. Therefore, mental health is an unspoken and taboo subject as it directly contrasts against these features. This causes men to fear and not feel comfortable to reach out for help and seek support out of fear of disapproval, judgement and perhaps shame. Especially being under this societal pressure since birth.
Priory Group state that "40% of men have never spoken to anyone about their mental health". When asked why they don't speak up, the biggest reasons cited were:
"I've learnt to deal with it" (40%)
"I don't wish to burden anyone" (36%)
"I'm too embarrassed" (29%)
"There's negative stigma around this type of thing" (20%)
Furthermore, some men may feel ashamed to feel vulnerable not just in public but also alone, in private as well. This is incredible harmful as it causes the individual to suppress their feelings and emotions.
The effects of suppressing emotions can include low-self esteem, sadness, anger, bad quality sleep, loss of appetite etc and and can result in an unpredicted "outburst" of emotions or "breakdown".
The CALADA Clinic also states the danger of suppressing emotions which include developing anxiety, depression, and other stress-related illnesses.
Furthermore, Healthline states that research has linked emotional repression to physical stress and problems such as a decreased immune system function.
Due to the ignorance toward men's mental health, men are more likely to use harmful coping mechanisms such as drugs and/or alcohol.
Priory Group states that men account for three quarter of all suicides in the UK. Which is equivalent to 74% of all individuales.
Furthermore, conducted another survey of the pressures that might negatively impact their mental health. The top three causes were:
Work-related pressure (32%)
Financial pressures at (31%)
Health concerns (23%.)
Therefore the statistic from MentalHealth.org.uk that the highest suicide rates in the UK are men aged 40 to 49 is understandable.
How to identify signs of mental health issues:
Persistent sense or worry
Overwhelming feelings of sadness
Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
Withdrawal from friends and family
Withdrawal from friends and activities
Feeling tired or fatigued
Weight or appetite changes
Physical symptoms like shortness of breath or headaches
Signs that are more common in men than women are:
Misuse of alcohol and/or drugs
Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
How to overcome ignorance toward men's mental health
Raise awareness of mental health issues - Be more open as individuals and a society to the concept of mental health as a whole and men struggling too
Watch your language - don't use the common phrases of "boy's don't cry", "be a man", "you throw like a girl" and more.
Encourage the conversation of mental health especially male mental health
Attempt to let go of the concept of expressing emotion is a sign of weakness
Talk about it frequently, within friendships family and more.
Help for your mental health
Recognise what you are feeling - Attempt to understand and manage your feelings
Spend more time outdoors and closer to nature - Isolating yourself inside is not helpful
Exercise - The Mental health Foundation states that exercising releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Also increases your self-esteem, concentration levels and improves sleep
Get more sleep - sleep regulates our body. Poor sleep increases anxiety depression and more
Plan things to look forward to - This can make it easier to get through tough times
Talk to someone you trust for support - Perhaps this is a friend, family member, or co-worker you trust. This is beneficial as talking it through can help you feel not alone, and supported and you can also be enlightened to ideas or changes that may be helpful
Seek professional help
Here are some links for help and support
Confidential help and support: Samaritans
General health information: NHS