Why is men’s mental health important? What percentage of males suffer from mental health issues? What can men do to improve their mental health? What are the most common mental health issues among men? What is a common misconception about men’s mental health? If you are looking for answers to these and more questions about men’s mental health, this article is for you.
Hi. My name is Sean Galla. I am a facilitator of support groups and support forums for men, with over 10 years of experience. My work involves providing safe spaces where men can talk about men’s healthcare issues, including mental health.
This article offers a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking for support, information, and help to better understand men’s mental health, including why men need to care about their mental health. Here is everything you need to know about this topic, including how to care for your mental health as a man.
Table of Contents:
Men and Mental Health
Good mental health is as important as the oxygen humans need to live. While mental health issues can affect both men and women, statistics show that the prevalence of mental illness is higher in women than in men. The national institute of mental health (NIMH) statistics also show that men are less likely to seek medical intervention for mental health issues than women, even though suicide rates are higher amongst men than women, according to the national suicide prevention lifeline.
Globally, studies show that men generally find it more difficult to open up about mental health struggles than women. The cultural stigma around mental health is a leading reason men shy away from seeking mental health assistance or speaking about their mental health issues. Described as the silent epidemic, mental health illness amongst men has become a growing concern amongst health experts, begging for attention.
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Why Do Men Find It Hard to Talk About Mental Health?
Gender stereotypes and societal expectations
Traditional gender roles and societal expectations about men are risk factors that make it harder for men to discuss their mental health or seek support. Most societies support the notion that ‘big boys don’t cry’. They expect men to be strong, unemotional father figures whose work is to provide, dominate and control the family unit. While these stereotypes are not inherently bad, boys grow up with the idea that being emotional or needing mental health support is a sign of weakness.
Men grow up believing they have to show strength and composure throughout their existence, no matter what life throws at them. This makes it hard for most men to accept when facing mental health challenges, much less seek professional support or intervention.
When men are not able to openly talk about their feelings and emotions, they are unable to recognize signs of mental health issues, making it even harder to reach out for support.
When faced with challenges that affect their mental health, men are more likely to take on harmful coping mechanisms like drug abuse, alcohol use, and other dangerous behaviors to numb the pain.
Nine in ten people with mental health problems believe that discriminations and stigma are the main reasons they fear seeking mental health care. Most men fear seeking mental health support because of the stigma and discrimination they are likely to receive from society, family members, and other loved ones.
The stigma is due mainly to the misinformation and ignorance around mental health and mental illness. Historically, mental health patients were assumed to be unpredictable, dangerous, and violent, which changed how the people around them associated with them. Most men fear talking about their mental health issues for fear of being treated differently.
Because of stigma, people living with mental illness are isolated and excluded in life. It makes it harder for them to get employment, make friends, or live a normal life. Because of fear of this alienation, most men prefer to ignore mental health issues and remain silent, denying themselves the much-needed mental health treatment and support.
Mental Health Issues Common Amongst Men
This is one of the most common mental health issues amongst men. According to different mental health initiatives statistics, 5.5% of young men live with depression. Since male depression is diagnosed less often than depression in women, most signs of depression in men go unnoticed since their symptoms of depression are less pronounced than the major depressive disorder.
This is also a common mental health issue amongst men. Common anxiety in men disorders include panic disorder, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), phobias, and social anxiety.
Anxiety in men increases the chances of developing ADHD and substance use disorder.
Substance use disorder
Men’s mental health statistics show that young adult males are more likely to abuse drugs compared to women in the same age group. Men self-medicate with a wide range of drugs as coping strategies for different issues, including hallucinogens, marijuana, and prescription medication. Also, men are more likely to develop alcohol abuse than women, accounting for higher alcohol overuse-related hospitalizations and deaths.
Substance use disorder is often overlooked as a mental health issue because male substance use is more socially acceptable and even seen as a masculine trait. This places men at a higher risk of becoming dependent on substances.
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
PTSD is also a common mental health condition amongst men. At least 60% of men go through at least one traumatic experience in their lives related to physical assault, accidents, witnessing injury or death, and combat. These experiences can have long-term effects on the brain, affecting a person’s mental health.
PTSD symptoms can interfere with a man’s day-to-day quality of life. Yet, most men with the condition go undiagnosed because they prefer to suffer in silence or overlook behavioral or physical issues exhibiting symptoms.
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by highs and lows in mood and activity level. In men, the condition typically manifests between the age of 15 and 24, affecting up to 2.6% of the US male population. This condition can often go undiagnosed amongst men since most signs in the manic phase can be overlooked as normal male behavior. Also, men experience less frequent manic episode cycling, making it a more complex condition to pinpoint in men.
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Warning Signs of Men’s Mental Health Issues
Since men find it hard to openly express their emotional struggles like feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or frustration, mental health issues can manifest in different symptoms that affect their well-being, including:
- Physical symptoms, such as chronic headaches or stomachaches
- Restlessness and difficulty focusing
- Sleep deprivations or excessive sleeping
- Mood changes
- Eating disorder
- Alcohol use or drug abuse
- Suicidal thoughts
- Aggression and violence
- Appetite and weight changes
- High-risk activities
- Substance abuse
- Obsessive thinking
Tips on How to Improve Men’s Mental Health
Men are mentally wired to suppress their emotions and avoid discussing issues that cause them pain. The first step towards better mental health as a man is to learn to open up about your feelings and emotions. Men need to know that it is ok to open up and share their feelings. You can start by opening up to people closest to you as you learn how to ask for health and mental health support.
Reframe your mind about mental health
As a man, you need to start acknowledging that mental health is critical to your overall health. This allows you to extend yourself some grace when faced with mental health challenges and make it easier for you to seek help. Your mental health requires as much care and attention as you give your physical health.
One of the most critical aspects of addressing mental health is accepting seeing a professional mental healthcare provider. Seeking professional help is an ideal way of getting a proper diagnosis of your mental health status and learning better ways to cope with mental health conditions. A mental health professional will also help you through the process of getting to understand yourself and learning to live with a diagnosis.
Join an all-men mental health support group
One of the reasons men shy away from support groups and forums is the idea of sharing their innermost feelings in the presence of women or fellow men for fear of being judged or misunderstood. Whether you live with a mental health issue like anxiety or depression or simply need a safe space to vent about day-to-day life stresses, or even get information on how to lose belly fat for men, joining a men-only support group may be one of the best things to do.
Men-only mental health support groups like Men’s Group offer a safe space where men can go and share their thoughts, feelings, and struggles with other men who understand. Being part of a support group gives men access to mental health services and tools needed to lead healthier, happier lives.
More About Men’s Group
Men’s Group is an online support group for men. If you are a man in need of emotional support, being part of a men-only community is one of the best ways to ensure you get personalized help for your needs.
This community of men is dedicated to supporting each other through life’s challenges and changes. Being part of a men-only support group ensures you get a free space to share, vent, and learn about men’s mental health in a safe space without fear of judgment or being misunderstood.
Meetings take place online, making them accessible from anywhere, which has been of great help to most men during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bottom Line
Mental health can be hard to think about or even talk about, especially among men. Learning more about men’s mental health is an important step toward embracing mental health as part of their overall health. The information shared in this article can help men better understand their mental health and seek support without feeling judged or emasculated. Also, joining a support group like Men’s Group makes it easier for men to open up and get much-needed mental health support.
*Sources: 1. Men's mental health: 'Man up' is not the answer 2. Building Emotional Safety Nets for Men 3. The 5 Most Common Male Mental Health Disorders 4. A Critical Look at Men’s Mental Health 5. 40% Of Men Won’t Talk About Their Mental Health