Traditionally, men have found it difficult to admit that something is not right and get help. Factors such as social stigma, social expectations, and a sense of responsibility have led many men to hide their internal struggles and have difficulties talking about their mental health. While women find it easier to communicate with each other about their emotional struggles, men still have a long way to go. 

Social stigmas around mental health, in particular, have accelerated these communication barriers. So, what are the most common issues men face today and what can we do about them? Read on to find out.

Numbers about men’s mental health

According to Mental Health America, 1 in 5 men is diagnosed with mental issues every year. Data also shows that men are more likely to experience alcohol and drug dependence than women. Furthermore, nearly 78% of all suicides are committed by men. 

The mental health foundation in the UK also offers some pessimistic stats:

  • Three times as many men as women die by suicide
  • Men aged 40 to 49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK
  • Men report lower levels of life satisfaction than women, according to the Government’s national well-being survey
  • Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women: only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men

The reality is that mental health issues do not discriminate against gender. Men can suffer from mental illness symptoms just as much as women. Therefore, recognizing that men are equally vulnerable to mental disorders is crucial to reducing the high prevalence of illness among this gender category.

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Blocks to improving men’s mental health 

Masculinity has always been associated with strength, invincibility, and power. Ever since the beginning of times, men have been expected to deal well with pressure, keep calm in difficult situations, and show no emotion. As the main providers for families for a long time, men were felt a great sense of responsibility to hold things together in communities and their own families. While this isn’t necessarily a problem, it has led to unintended consequences: the association of masculinity with strength and invulnerability. 

The biggest blocks that men nowadays face when it comes to asking for help are:

  1. Shame of being criticised and judged as ‘weak’ 
  2. Failure to conform to expectations placed on them
  3. The fear of losing their identity in front of other people 

Therefore, to overcome the block to getting mental health support, men need to work through the stigma that has been attached to them for a long time. Besides working against this unhealthy stigma, men should always priritise mental health in their lives. 

How to get mental health support as a man

If you’re a male, talking about your emotions does not come naturally to you. This is because you have associated the idea of getting help to being weak. However, this has never been true. Every human being deal with all kinds of emotions on a daily basis — and you’re no exception to this. 

  1. Recognise your tendency to hide your emotions

Studies show that whilst women are more likely to express sadness when upset, men tend to conceal their feelings by becoming irritable or aggressive. Being disconnected from these emotions can delay seeking help and receiving appropriate support. It’s important, therefore, to encourage emotional communication amongst men as well as women.

One way to do this is by practicing vulnerability and expressing how we feel. Talking to a friend, encouraging others to open up, and staying in touch with family can be helpful ways to create support networks. If you find it difficult to open up to a friend or relative, mental health services such SupportRoom can help. Talking to a therapist through SupportRoom will provide support and a safe space for men to open up about their struggles.

  1. Join a support group

Research has shown that social support is a highly protective factor against emotional distress.

Support groups can help men to communicate their worries, ask for help with personal matters or simply express temporary emotions. The sense of being accepted and included makes a huge difference in our ability to cope with daily stresses and challenges. One way to enhance men’s sense of belonging is to contact online groups whose mission is to bring men together in a community. There are various online and offline support groups available, such as The Good Men Project and Men’s Group. Getting in touch with these resources shouldn’t create any embarrassment or fear since these organizations exist to help vulnerable people.

  1. Look after your mental and physical health

Physical health and mental health are closely connected. Studies now show that physical movement and nutrition play a crucial role in our mental well-being. It’s important to eat a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats. Exercise is key too. Strength training, running, and yoga can be especially beneficial for our bodies and mind.

A routine should also be a key aspect of basic self-care. Adding structure to your day allows us to build in alone time, organisational activities, and social plans. Daily structure helps us feel in control of our lives and being active throughout the day helps our sleep cycle to remain consistent.

Summary

Mental health amongst men should no longer be a taboo subject. Experiencing mental and emotional distress is normal, regardless of age, gender, or demographics. Thanks to the resources available today, men can better look after their mental health by getting in touch with support providers such as SupportRoom. To learn more about this topic, take a look at the articles below:

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