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Whys Is There Still Ignorance Towards Men's Mental Health


Mental health is about our emotional, psychological and social well-being, it affects how we think, speak and act. In the UK approximately 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year and 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem such as anxiety and depression in any given week. A lot of people find it hard to speak about there mental health but this is seen especially in men, so while women are more likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness, in 2017 75% of UK suicides were by men. This opens up the topic on why men are more likely to suffer in silence and not speak about there mental health.


Stigma


Nearly 9 out of 10 people with mental health problems say that stigma and discrimination have a negative effect on their lives and that their problems are made worse through experiencing this stigma, not only from society but also family and friends. Some men believe they will be alienated by their peers for having a mental health condition, so instead choose to stay silent.


A lot of stigma that comes from mental health includes people being thought of as weak or attention seeking when actually it is the fourth leading cause of death among 15 - 29 year olds. This stigma may have increased through social media as apps such as TikTok because it has kind of normalised mental health in a way saying that everyone has down days and so it is normal. This has lead to people self diagnosing themselves with illnesses they don't have and so the real people suffering aren't able to get the correct help that they deserve and hence other people thinking the people saying they suffer are attention seekers.


The stigma men receive is especially impactful as they are being told to "man up" and made to feel like less of a man if they do speak about their problems and generally men are wired to believe that they can't show emotion.


Masculinity

"Man up" if a term used to men a lot whenever they show signs of being hurt or upset. Males are taught throughout their upbringing they need to be strong and quiet, not only this but the type of movies they watch also has an influence as if you look at characters such as Indiana Jones, the Terminator and superheroes men are shown as the protectors and this is what you should aspire to be like. This role men are portrayed to play is tarnishing in many ways especially for men who deal with mental health such as depression.


"Toxic Masculinity" is a certain set of behaviours associated for the traditional man, some of these behaviours include being dominant, violent and not displaying emotion. A lot of men who are struggling tend not to reach out for help with the fear that they are going to be judged or picked on for not behaving like the stereotypical man. Not only are men judged by other men, but also women as they see men who aren't as masculine less attractive, so why are men going to ask for help or share their feelings if they are going to be rejected by both men and women. Men are made to feel their feelings aren't valid and like they have no one to go to and this is why in the UK nearly 12 men lose their lives to suicide everyday and men die by suicide at a rate 3 times more often than women.


What you can do to help


If you know someone who is displaying signs of mental health or is struggling let them know they have help if they want it and that asking for it is not a sign of weakness. We need to stop with the mindset that someone who struggles with mental health is to blame for it and that they are less of a human being for it, because if you could physically see the hurt they are experiencing you wouldn't react in such a way. The NHS offer help as well as loads of organisations such as CALM ( Campaign Against Living Miserably for men) and Samaritans. Suicide should never be the answer for anyone.

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