June is Men’s Health Month so we thought it would be the right time to talk about something so many men tend to avoid…men and their mental health. It is no secret that there is a stigma surrounding men discussing their mental health and that needs to change.
Masculinity & Men’s Mental Health
Men are supposed to be viewed as strong. Ever since we were little, we have been taught to hide our emotion because showing emotion is looked at as a sign of weakness, especially when a man does it.
Men should always shut out their emotions and feelings, hiding all insecurities, and be self-reliant. Men can never be seen as less masculine and crying out for help makes you weak.
And we were taught that is just the way it is, suck it up and be a macho man.
But staying quiet about your feelings can actually lead you down a dark path.
Male Mental Health Statistics
Did you know that men are three times more likely to commit suicide compared to women? The American Foundation and Suicide Prevention reports that 7 out of 10 of the suicides in 2016 were men.
According to Mental Health America, men over the age of 85 make up the highest rate of suicides in the US.
This is because, like we mentioned before, men are afraid to get help and talk about their feelings. And when you fail to get help for a mental disorder, you become more depressed and anxious. Leading to feeling even more helpless and like a total failure.
Also, not getting help and letting your mental illness take over your life can lead to job loss, failed marriages, substance abuse, or attempted suicide.
In fact, a reported 6 million men suffer from depression every single year and it usually goes undiagnosed.
Substance abuse is a common way for men to deal with their mental disorders. This is why about 1 in 5 men develop a dependency on alcohol at some point in their life.
There is actually a word that describes many men, alexithymia. Which means, no words for emotions. Men are self-aware that they are feeling these emotions, but have difficult speaking up about them. And this is usually taught at an early age.
Mental Disorders Affects Humans and Doesn’t Discriminate Against Gender
Mental disorders like depression and anxiety can sometimes start at an early age or during your teenage years and can carry on into adulthood. It is also not uncommon for adults to suffer from mental disorders due to a tragedy or big life change.
The point is, these feelings are not uncommon and unfortunately anyone, including men, at any age can experience a mental disorder.
Even though both men and women suffer from mental disorders, men are impacted differently and a lot of it has to do with their need to not talk about it.
Signs of a Mental Disorder
Unsure you are suffering from a mental disorder, but think you might be or that a loved one might be? Keep in mind that the signs are rather different in men than in women.
It is no surprise that women usually tend to show their emotions well. And that includes when they are feeling depressed as they usually show they are sad.
Whereas men are usually angry and aggressive when they are depressed. They also suffer from physical issues such as a racing heart, stomach issues, and frequent headaches.
Other signs of a mental disorder(remember, these can be subtle!):
– Insomnia or too much sleep
– Change in appetite
– Change in mood or energy level
– Inability to concentrate
– Always worried
– Substance abuse
– Feelings of sadness & hopelessness
– Suicidal thoughts
– Obsessive behaviors
It is true, you are not alone! It is reported that 30 percent of men suffer from a mental disorder. And to live the happy life you deserve, you need to overcome the fear of talking about your feelings and get the help you need.
See… it is ok to NOT be ok! And it is quite normal. Remember, we all can’t be superman like the Rock 100 percent of the time.
Speaking up and talking about your issues is NOT a sign of weakness. And you will end up finding a great deal of relief and living a meaningful life once you get over the hump and do something about your mental health.
Not only will you find YOUR life to be better, but you could also improve the lives of the ones around you. To stop suicide being one of the leading causes of death in men, something needs to be done and it can start with YOU!
Famous athletes like Terry Bradshaw, Larry Sanders, and Jum Piersall all have opened about their struggles with depression.
You can set the tone for men to speak up about their mental health. Talk about your experience with your friends. Especially if you think one of them is suffering. And let them know that they aren’t alone.
Disclaimer: In all seriousness, this article is not to be used as a source of treatment, but as a piece of information. The author has no medical background. The intent of the article is to shed some light on the stigma men and mental health face and why it is hard for men to talk about it
If you are having suicidal thoughts or feel you could be a danger to yourself or others, please reach out to a family member or a therapist in your area right away.
Helpful resources can be found at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline