Men's mental health is now openly discussed by more people. Depression, anxiety, phobias, and eating disorders are now on the the table for discussion.
Even more than women, men suffer in silence, and it has a lot to do with the different ways boys and girls are brought up.
One of the most significant social stereotypes is that boys are stronger or tougher than girls.1
Yet little girls grow up to be women who have to be tough enough to go through childbirth. This stereotype of masculine strength creates boys who grow into men who suppress their feelings. In other words, it has been ingrained in them that feeling vulnerable is a sign of weakness and discussing their anxiety or depression is “unmanly.” Men need to be freed of the stigma attached to their feelings of imperfection, loneliness, and helplessness. All these so-called negative thoughts are part of being human and living through the various stages of life, regardless of gender. Simply feeling able to confide in a therapist, friend, or any trusted person is a big step toward mental health.
Research supports that men who cannot speak openly about their emotions may be less likely to recognize mental health issues.2 And, if they don’t realize they are going through some kind of crisis, they will not seek help. Instead, they commonly turn to coping mechanisms such as drinking alcohol to excess, doing drugs, or acting overly aggressive. Some other mental health symptoms in men include:
persistent feelings of worry
engaging in high-risk activities
unusual behavior that impedes daily functions
thoughts of suicide.3
“You are not alone”— This statement alone can help someone suffering from a mental health crisis because the knowledge that a specific feeling is not unique makes it somewhat more acceptable as part of society. In fact, in England, the suicide rate is three times higher in men than in women.4
In North America, the rate is four times higher among men than women.5 Those contemplating suicide often believe no one feels the way they do.
Risk factors for mental health issues in men include social isolation, substance abuse, unemployment, military-related trauma, genetic predisposition, mood disorders, and health challenges specific to aging in those 85 and older.6
In their 2018 report, the World Health Organization emphasized that cultural stigma surrounding mental health was one of the chief obstacles to people admitting that they were struggling and seeking help, and this was especially pronounced in men.7
Because so many men have been brought up to think of mental health as not concrete, the subject has become known by various media as a “silent epidemic” and a “sleeper issue that has crept into the minds of millions.”8
The fact that men’s mental health is trending in the news gives hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. New fathers and mothers can lead the way by treating boys and girls equitably. Nurture and encourage both genders to articulate thoughts and feelings and be generous and kind to as many as possible. \It’s never too early to guide a child into living as an active participant in the Global Wellness Community.