Did you know that 1 in 10 men around the world are projected to have a common mental health problem at some point in their lives? Although mental health and its challenges affect all genders, surveys from around the world show that it is often overlooked or not taken seriously for men.
Men are found to be only around half as likely as women to seek treatment for their mental health issues and are 3 times more likely than women to become dependent on alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism.
Talking about mental health
The aversion in men to speak of their mental health and seek help even if they are diagnosed with a mental health condition stems from a long-standing stigma of it being a sign of weakness. Although there are exceptions, men often tend to keep their mental health issues to themselves.
With men, studies show that the stigma around mental illness is far greater than with physical illness. The main culprit behind this stigma is toxic masculinity, stemming from societal expectations and traditional gender roles that perpetuate the concept of ‘manliness’ – expecting men to always be in control and equating vulnerability to weakness. This added pressure to always appear strong causes men to bottle up their feelings and resort to unhelpful behaviours as a way to cope.
The unaddressed depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues have been found to have direct correlation to men’s functioning at home and the workplace. Family, friends, and even companies need to understand the facts about men’s mental health and the obstacles that keep them from seeking help, recognise the symptoms of disorders, and support them.
Challenging mental health stigma
First off, the stigma attached to asking for help must be removed. If a male family member or colleague opens up about their troubles with their mental health, it’s important for us to offer them a safe space to voice out their concerns. Offer them a listening ear, acknowledge their feelings and let them know that it’s okay not to be okay.
Companies play a big part in inculcating this at the workplace, through education as well as thoughtful HR policies. Those at the top of the organisation should be modeling a mental-health positive workplace, so that employees feel safe talking about their issues without any judgement or stigma.
Knowing the signs
If you think you or someone you know are suffering from mental health issues, here are some symptoms to look out for:
sudden change in mood or energy levels
drop in performance
changes in appetite or sleeping habits
sadness, hopelessness, or pulling away from things that used to provide enjoyment
headaches and stomach issues
It’s important to recognise the signs of mental health issues so that you are able to reach out for support in a timely manner. We need to get the message across that it’s okay to ask for help, whether for yourself or your loved ones. There is courage and strength in opening up your heart to someone, in being vulnerable, and in acknowledging your feelings.
We all play a part in empowering both the men and women in our lives to engage in their mental wellness by offering them a safe space and by being open with our own vulnerabilities.
We’re here to help
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