Men’s Mental Health Stigma: A Critical Look
The stigma for men’s mental health is often that men should be able to tough it out. That they shouldn’t show weakness. This is particularly true for men of certain cultures where men are taught that they need to be the providers and protectors. As a result, men may feel like they can’t show weakness or vulnerability.
This stigma can make it difficult for men to seek help for mental health issues. They may feel like they need to deal with their problems on their own. Or, they may not even realize that they’re struggling with a mental health disorder.
From August 2020 to February 2021, the percentage of adults with recent symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5%. On top of that, the percentage of those reporting unmet mental health care needs increased from 9.2% to 11.7%. Increases were largest among adults aged 18–29 years and those with less than high school education.
Men of color, special needs, and LGBTQ men face unique challenges when it comes to mental health. They may experience higher levels of stress due to discrimination and social injustice and may be less likely to seek help because of the stigma around men’s mental health.
Mental Health Across the Nation
46.2% of U.S. adults with mental illness received treatment in 2020. 64.5% of U.S. adults with serious mental illness received treatment in 2020. The average delay between the onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years.
11% of U.S. adults with mental illness had no insurance coverage in 2020. 11.3% of U.S. adults with serious mental illness had no insurance coverage in 2020.
Non-Hispanic white adults (24.4%) were more likely than non-Hispanic black (15.3%), Hispanic (12.6%), and non-Hispanic Asian (7.7%) adults to have received any mental health treatment.
Overall, as the level of urbanization decreased, the percentage of adults who had taken medication for their mental health increased, and the percentage who had received counseling or therapy decreased.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is “Together for Mental Health.”
One in five men will experience a mental health issue in any given year, but men are less likely than women to seek help. There are several reasons for this. First, there is a lot of stigma around men’s mental health.
Men are expected to be tough and self-reliant, so asking for help can be seen as a sign of weakness. Second, men may not even realize that they’re experiencing a mental health issue.
Mental health issues can manifest differently in men than in women.
What Factors Can Lead to Male Mental Health Issues?
Some factors that can lead to mental health issues in men include:
- Stressful life events, such as divorce, job loss, or financial problems
- A history of trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse
- Childhood neglect or abuse
- Witnessing violence
- Having a family member with a mental illness
- Drug or alcohol abuse
What Are the Symptoms of Mental Health Issues in Men?
Symptoms of mental health issues in men can include:
- Substance abuse
- Risky behaviors
- Withdrawal from friends and family
Some of the symptoms and warning signs that a man may be experiencing a mental health issue include:
- Feeling angry or irritable all the time
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Being overly self-critical
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Feeling hopeless or helpless
- Experiencing unexplained physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches
Risk factors for developing mental health issues can include:
- A family history of mental illness
- Exposure to trauma or stressful events
- Having chronic medical conditions men can face when it comes to their mental health
The Most Common Mental Health Disorders Affecting Men
The common mental health disorders affecting men include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Substance abuse disorders
- Mood disorders
- Eating disorders men may be reluctant to seek help for mental health issues due to the stigma surrounding mental illness. Unfortunately, this can often lead to men’s mental health problems going untreated.
Fortunately, there are several effective treatments available for men with mental health issues. These can include:
How Mental Health Issues Affect Men Differently than Women
Mental issues affect men differently than women due in part to gender socialization. From a young age, men are taught to be tough and to not show emotion.
This can lead men to bottle up their feelings and not seek help when they need it. As a result, men are more likely to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.
Men are also more likely to die by suicide than women. Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death for men in the United States. White men make up the largest group of suicides, but the rates are increasing for Hispanic and black men.
There are many reasons why men may not seek mental health treatment. These include:
- Stigma: There is still a lot of stigma around mental health, especially for men. Men may
- Work: Men are more likely to work in higher-stress jobs. They may also be more likely to have jobs that involve physical labor.
- Family: Men may feel like they need to be the breadwinner and providers for their families. This can lead to a lot of stress.
- Social pressure: There is a lot of pressure on men to be “tough” and not show emotions. This can make it hard for men to talk about their feelings.
- Lack of support: Men may not have as much social support as women. This can make them feel isolated and alone.
Suicide Rates Among Men in the United States
In the US, men are more likely to die by suicide than women. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for men in the US. Each year, about 30,000 men die by suicide. This means that men are 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide than women.
The main reason behind this difference is that men are less likely to seek help for their mental health problems. Men are also more likely to use deadly methods when they attempt suicide.
Risk Factors for Suicide Among Men
Several risk factors make men more likely to die by suicide. These include:
- Depression: Depression is the most common mental health problem among men. It can lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior.
- Substance abuse: Men are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than women. This can lead to mental health problems and increase the risk of suicide.
- Stress: Men are more likely to experience stress from work, relationships, and other areas of life. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
- isolation: Men are more likely to feel isolated from family and friends. This can make them feel like they have no one to turn to when they are struggling.
Treating Suicide in Men
If you or a man you know is considering suicide, it is important to get help immediately. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to speak with someone. Your voice matters.
There are resources available to help you cope and get the treatment you need. Here are some organizations that can provide support:
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness: NAMI offers support groups and educational programs for men with mental illness and their loved ones.
- The American Psychiatric Association: The APA provides information on men’s mental health and can connect you with a psychiatrist in your area.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: SAMHSA offers resources and treatment options for men with mental illness.
- The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: DBSA provides support groups and education for men with mood disorders.
- Mental Health America: https://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/men
How Is Mental Health Treated for Men?
Mental health treatment for men often starts with therapy. This can be in the form of individual therapy, group therapy, or family therapy. men may also benefit from medication. This can be used to treat depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. men may also benefit from lifestyle changes.
This can include getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep. men may also benefit from joining a support group. This can provide them with social support and allow them to share their experiences with others who understand what they are going through.
Other forms of treatment for mental health conditions in men include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Massage therapy
- Stress management
Benefits of Seeking Mental Health Treatment
The benefits of seeking mental health treatment are numerous. Men who receive treatment for their mental health conditions can expect to:
- Feel better
- Function more effectively
- Have improved relationships
- Be more productive
- Enjoy a better quality of life
Take the First Step
Taking the first step for men’s mental health can be difficult. Men may feel like they need to tough it out and deal with their symptoms on their own. Men should never feel ashamed or embarrassed to seek help for their mental health needs.
It’s important to remember that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Mental health disorders are common and affect people of all genders, races, and backgrounds. Seeking help is a sign of strength and you should be proud of yourself for taking that step.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health condition, we can help. Please visit our website or call us for treatment at Little Creek.