Mental health America reported that every single year 6 million men are affected by depression in the United States. Men are also two to three times more likely to misuse drugs than women.
Why is there still stigma surrounding mental health treatment, especially for men, and how can we help change this?
Stigma and Toxic Masculinity
The problem for many men is the perception that mental health struggles are personal issues rather than seeing them as a health problem. Significant amounts of research have found a notably lower utilization of mental health care by men. Due to this perspective, the stigma surrounding mental health still exists.
It isn’t only asking for help that men seem to struggle with. Toxic masculinity is something many men experience, sometimes without realizing how harmful it is to their mental health. When discussing toxic masculinity, it comes down to a person’s upbringing. Being taught to be “strong”, being taught that crying or showing feelings other than anger are “weak”, or simply not being taught how to explore and talk about feelings are examples of toxic masculinity and have been proven to negatively affect men later in adulthood. It’s also why some men feel deterred by reporting symptoms of depression or anxiety. In many cases, this leads to drug and alcohol use to cope.
How to change this
As a society, there are ways we can all contribute to destigmatizing men’s mental health. If you identify as male, here are some ways you can personally help start this needed change in our society:
- – Be honest with yourself. Look for ways to express your emotions in a healthy way for example, getting into a hobby, talking with someone you trust, practice mindfulness, etc.
- – Speak to a mental health professional.
- – Listen to mental health podcasts! There are so many that exist, and specifically for men audience as well. Examples are found here.
- – Learn ways to manage stress
- – Practice healthy self-care (diet full of fruits, veggies, whole grains; regular exercise; prioritizing rest and recover, etc.)
Remember, it’s important to speak up for others and empower one another to make the world a better place.
Written by GUADs Summer intern Carla and edited by GUADS staff member Kate with contributions from www.healthline.com