“Man up” — it’s a common phrase in our society that tells us, regardless of our gender identity, that we should be strong like a man, and to be strong is to show no emotion. It’s no wonder that many people consider mental health to be a women’s issue, rather than something that everyone should understand.
The stigma of mental illness can make it challenging for anyone to seek the help they need. However, men are told their mental health concerns are not real or somehow make them less of a man. Understanding that men are capable of having emotions and mental illnesses is essential to dismantling the stigma.
Men and Mental Health
Even though men rarely seek mental healthcare, they’re three times more likely to die by suicide than women. Over the last decade, suicide was the 7th leading cause of death in men in the U.S., according to Mental Health America.
When it comes to depression and anxiety, two of the most common mental illnesses in Americans, women are likely to report sadness and feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. On the other hand, men more commonly experience symptoms like:
- Irritability, anger and restlessness
- Loss of interest in hobbies and work
- Interest in high-risk activities
- Physical ailments that don’t seem to have a cause
Still, men may experience any symptoms associated with these conditions, as they vary from person to person, not gender.
Mental Health Stigma in Males
Societal norms are one of the biggest barriers preventing men from reaching out when they’re mentally unwell. Many consider men to be less emotional than women, and that view leads many to think that men shouldn’t have emotions at all. Older men especially feel this way, as they have the highest risk of suicide.
Low testosterone can cause or impact mental illness, making men feel even more uncomfortable coming forward with their problems.
Men’s lack of ability or desire to discuss their mental illness may also be why men are more likely to turn to addiction. Alcohol and other drugs may help them feel better about themselves without having to tell anyone else about it. Unfortunately, using substances as a treatment method for mental illness often leads to addiction and worsening symptoms of mental illness.
How to Get Rid of Mental Health Stigma
Understanding how mental health affects men is the first step in ending the stigma. Men are as likely to deal with mental illness as women — it doesn’t make them any less of a man, and there is no reason to feel ashamed.
Help eliminate the stigma by talking to the men you love about their mental health, and urge them to seek help as soon as you notice the signs of mental illness. 7 Summit Pathways is here for those men that are affected by both mental illness and addiction. Connect with us today to begin the path to Recovery in a judgment-free sanctuary.