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Why Is Men’s Mental Health Not Taken Seriously? Good mental health is an essential aspect of a person’s overall well-being and has a significant impact on their daily lives, relationships, and even their physical health. Although mental health issues affect people of both genders, men’s mental health has generally been receiving less attention and support. Despite efforts to raise awareness about mental health issues in general, there remains a pervasive stigma surrounding mental illness in men. In this article, we will explore why men’s mental health is not taken seriously and what can be done to change this.
Stereotypes – Why Men Don’t Seek Help
Statistics show that more women than men are diagnosed with mental health problems, but this may partly be explained by men not coming forward because they feel embarrassed to admit that they are struggling. At a time when poor mental health is of increasing public concern, many of the old male stereotypes still remain – that they should be strong, confident, and somehow in control of things, including themselves.
Men are often taught from a young age that expressing emotions is a sign of weakness, leading them to suppress their feelings and avoid seeking help. Indeed, some men suppress feelings so well that they are not even aware they have a mental health problem. The pressure to conform to traditional gender roles can be particularly challenging for men who have experienced trauma or abuse. They may consider they are not living up to society’s expectations of masculinity, leading to feelings of inadequacy, shame, and even depression.
Mental Health Stigma and Men: Why It Happens
Mental health stigma is still common in the UK and people often respond with negative attitudes towards sufferers, and sometimes even with discrimination. Men in particular are commonly seen as self-sufficient, unemotional, and tough and when they deviate from this, people can respond by being judgmental or sometimes derisive, which can make it difficult for them to seek help for mental health issues. Some of this stigma has its roots in fear because mental health problems have been linked in the past to violence and criminality. Stigma is often evidenced unthinkingly in the casual attitude of others such as:
- Mildly derogative language – ‘odd’ or ‘psycho’ for example
- Reinforcing stereotypes such as cartoon pictures and weirdo Halloween costumes
- Avoiding people who are clearly struggling, or not wanting to talk to them.
- Unhelpful comments such as ‘who let you out?’
Why Is It Important to Take Men’s Mental Health Seriously?
Taking men’s mental health seriously is essential to ensure that men receive the support and care they need to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Mental health issues can affect anyone, regardless of gender, and ignoring or minimising men’s mental health concerns can have serious consequences for individuals, families, and communities. The media tend to portray negative views of people with mental health problems and to suggest that they struggle to live normal, fulfilling lives. This in turn can cause difficulties in their everyday experiences such as:
- Finding jobs and keeping in work
- Benefiting from education
- Handling meaningful and steady relationships
- Finding housing
- Living in communities and integrating socially
- Physical health problems and general anhedonia.
Medically Managed Detox
What Kind of Mental Health Problems Affect Men?
Men can experience a range of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, childhood issues including abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Men are also more likely to respond to such challenges with substance abuse and addiction issues and these can sometimes exacerbate an underlying mental health condition, even in recovery. For example, long-term use of benzodiazepines (anti-depressant drugs) can terminate when the user quits, in a slow and mentally challenging benzodiazepines detox which can seem to some like a form of depression.
Who Men Speak to About Their Mental Health
Men may speak to a variety of people about their mental health, including friends, family members, and partners as well as mental health professionals. Due to stigma and societal expectations, men may be more likely to turn to friends and family for support than approach professionals. Because seeking professional help may seem to be a sign of weakness, some men may try to sort themselves out alone, perhaps through some form of self-medication such as antidepressants that may make things worse.
Spotting the Signs of Mental Health Issues in Men
Signs of mental health issues in men can include changes in behaviour, mood, and personality. Men may become depressed, irritable, or aggressive, withdraw from social activities, experience changes in sleep or appetite, and have difficulty concentrating or making decisions. If you are concerned about someone’s mental health, it is important to encourage them to seek professional help.
According to the American Psychological Association, suicide rates among men are higher than among women. Additionally, men are more likely to engage in risky behaviours such as substance abuse, which can have negative impacts on mental health.
- 74% of all UK and US suicides are male.
- 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.
- Men are far more likely than women to go missing, sleep rough, become dependent on alcohol and use drugs frequently.
- Mental health disorders are the leading cause of disability.
Getting Help for Your Mental Health
Getting help for mental health issues is essential for recovery and well-being. There are many resources available, including therapy, medication, support groups, and self-care practices. It is important to talk to a mental health professional to determine the best course of treatment for your specific needs. There are a number of helpful charitable organisations such as the Mental Health Foundation, Mind and in Scotland, See Me . There are also the Samaritans, available on the phone 24/7. Asking for help means taking responsibility for change and should never be seen as a sign of weakness.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Mental Illness
Common signs and symptoms of mental illness can include changes in mood or behaviour, feelings of sadness or hopelessness, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, changes in sleep or appetite and increased risk-taking. Men are more likely to indulge in obsessive behaviour as coping strategies such as overworking or compulsive exercising which can lead to addiction. Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach aches can also appear. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek professional help.
Positive Responses to Mental Health Problems
In recent years, men’s own view of mental health problems and what to do about them has been improved by a more open public discussion. Some parts of the media have become interested in highlighting mental health and certain prominent men have spoken out on their difficulties and how they resolved them. Elton John, Prince Harry, and footballer Tony Adams are examples (there have also been many women who have done the same). This may well have encouraged a lot more men to do something themselves.
Steps to Take to Keep Good Mental Health
Prevention of poor mental health is important because it is possible for the mental health of both men and women to deteriorate gradually through neglect, perhaps without being noticed. Here are some points to check regularly to ensure that you are practicing basic self-care and not neglecting the need for good mental health:
- Nutrition – make sure that you are eating healthily and regularly. Good nutrition means that your brain is getting the right amounts of vital substances it needs in order to function properly.
- Sleep – make sure that you go to bed at the right time and get enough sleep – deprivation can lead to anxiety, irritability, and general tiredness which can become negativity, or worse.
- Exercise – you don’t need to overdo this but sufficient regular exercise so that the basic body functions occur normally leads to a feeling of general well-being.
- Avoid unnecessary stress – ask yourself what is really important to you and if your present lifestyle – job, friends, interests – is really what you need for your general happiness.
- Don’t self-medicate – if you are living healthily your body and mind will bounce back from stressful challenges without help from pills or other potentially dangerous substances, including alcohol.
- Always have a way to talk things through – isolation and not sharing problems can be a major source of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. It is always better to talk and even if you don’t want to share with friends or family there are organisations like the Samaritans to whom you can speak in confidence.
Start by Talking to a Mental Health Professional
If you are experiencing mental health issues, the first step is to talk to a mental health professional. This can include a therapist, counsellor, or psychiatrist, who can help you identify your specific needs and develop a treatment plan. It is important to recognise that mental illness is often characterised by the repression of feelings.
But silence and willpower alone are unlikely to succeed. for many men, this may appear to be an admission of defeat or a loss of control which they find difficult to accept. Nevertheless, identifying and processing feelings is a vital first step toward recovering good mental health. it is important to remember that poor mental health is a potentially life-threatening condition that needs addressing with the best tools available.
Why Don’t Men Talk About Mental Health Issues?
Men may not talk about mental health issues due to stigma, shame, and societal expectations. Men are often raised from a young age to be tough and unemotional, which can make it difficult for them to seek help. The example of some prominent people who have revealed their own mental health issues recently may help to change this attitude. Lack of awareness and education on mental health may stop some men from talking. Another reason can be ethnic or cultural backgrounds where such issues are simply not talked about.
Is There a Stigma Around Men’s Mental Health?
Yes, there is a significant stigma about men’s mental health. In general, the public expect men to be strong and self-reliant. In addition, mental health is often portrayed as frightening, unpredictable and hard to understand meaning that people so afflicted tend to be judged negatively or avoided.
Why Don’t People Talk About Their Mental Health?
There are several reasons why people may be hesitant to talk about their mental health. One reason is the stigma surrounding mental illness, which can lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment. Mental health concerns can be deeply personal and challenging to discuss, particularly if the individual has experienced trauma or other difficult life events. There may also be concerns about being judged or misunderstood by others. In addition, accessing mental health resources can be expensive and time-consuming, which can create barriers to seeking support.
At Castle Craig Hospital, we assess the mental health of every patient and believe that successful recovery from addiction happens when all mental health issues are addressed. Each person receives an individual treatment plan based on our ongoing assessment and we recognise that treatment may need to continue after discharge from our residential treatment programme.
If you are worried about an addiction for yourself or someone close to you or would like to discuss a co-occurring mental health condition, we are always glad to discuss your needs in complete confidence.
Please call us on 0808 271 7500