Mental health is as essential to overall well-being as physical health, and a person must maintain both through care and exercise. However, many are conditioned during youth to believe that tending to men’s mental health—by examining emotions, sharing feelings, and admitting where they have problems—is a sign of weakness and an indication that men lack the masculinity necessary to prove themselves as powerful.
Consequently, men do not treat their mental health with the respect that it deserves. Society at large also downplays the importance of men’s mental health.
Let’s have a look at the causes of the stigma surrounding men’s mental health care and try to break it. Let’s look at the causes of the stigma surrounding men’s mental health care and try to break through some of the barriers with the hopes that we can prevent men from suffering needlessly from treatable conditions.
Reasons We Don’t Take Men’s Mental Health Seriously
There is a great deal of stigma surrounding men discussing their mental health issues. Unfortunately, this stigma persists from generations of men who did not understand mental health topics and treatment as we do today.
Advances in psychology have identified ways to treat everyday emotional problems facing men. Yet, the nagging stigma and societal disapproval keep men from seeking the help readily available to them.
Why Men Don’t Seek Treatment
Boys learn at a young age that sharing too many feelings makes them vulnerable. Young males internalize a belief that they must withhold their inner thoughts and emotions to project confidence, a defining trait of powerful masculinity.
Traditionally, strong male stereotypes depend on powerful silence to convey authority. Many men get so used to denying their emotional needs that they may not even realize they have them.
Thankfully, these traditional masculinity norms are changing, and more and more male athletes, actors, and other public figures are speaking out about their challenges with depression and anxiety. But the feelings of guilt and despair men experience when dealing with their mental health concerns are real.
Risk Factors for Men
Mental health issues do not discriminate based on gender identification. Anyone who suffers from emotional or mental complications may experience the following symptoms:
- Depression and anxiety
- Fatigue, difficulty thinking clearly or making decisions
- Disruptions in sleeping and eating patterns
- Thoughts of worthlessness
However, due to the social conditioning that encourages men to suffer in silence and keep their feelings hidden, additional symptoms are more prevalent in men. These include:
- Risky behavior
- “Workaholic” tendencies
- Self-medication through alcohol or other substances
- Suicidal thoughts
Suicide is a ranking cause of death among men but not women. And while every life lost to suicide is a tragedy, the stark fact that males, roughly half the population, make up 80% of suicide deaths in the United States shows the challenge facing men’s health care today.
Advanced Behavioral Health understands the conditioning boys face when they are young, discouraging them from seeking help as adults. Our counselors know the unspoken stigma that men feel when sharing their feelings, and they have helped many men find peace.
If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health needs, don’t hesitate to contact our team of qualified mental health specialists.
You can call us at 301-345-1022 or send us a message online here. One of our team members will stand by to help you find the confidential consultation you need.
Watch our latest ABH Podcast episode, Discussing Men’s Mental Health, here. Francisco Silva, a new behavioral health therapist from the Frederick office, shares his mental health journey.