|Good mental health is extremely important. While we have made very large strides in understanding mental health issues we still have work to do when it comes to men’s mental health. Although both men and women are affected by mental illness, it is oftentimes overlooked in males. Researchers at The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimate that at least 6 million men suffer from depressive disorders, including suicidal thoughts, annually. However, mental health conditions among men often go untreated because they are far less likely to seek treatment than women. Untreated mental health conditions increase the risk for suicide, so it’s no surprise that suicide rates are higher among men. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men die by suicide 3.9x more often than females; 75% of suicide deaths are men. So what is preventing men from getting the treatment they need? Stigma and the culture norms surrounding masculinity are two contributing factors.
Stigma & Suffering In Silence
It’s difficult to understand the silent epidemic of mental health issues growing among men in the United States. Silent, because it’s a topic rarely spoken of, swept under the rug at both the individual level and by society at large. Stigma not only bars men from speaking to their loved ones about mental illness, but also from addressing it themselves and seeking help. Stigma affects the way men perceive mental health concerns and therapy. Common ways this can manifest is:
- Men may struggle to express their emotions.
- Men may not realize that they have a mental health condition.
- Men may turn to substances or other unhealthy coping mechanisms over seeking treatment.
- Men may believe that they can push through negative emotions or work through problematic behaviors on their own.
- Men may have a negative opinion about the effectiveness of therapy.
- Men might not consider seeking treatment until their mental health or behavioral issues are severe.
- Men might have difficulties being vulnerable in therapy and connecting with their therapist.
Source: The Hub: Behavioral Health Action Organization for Southwestern CT – Click here to view the full blog post