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  • Dr. B

Men's Mental Health

Updated: Jun 2

Men struggle alone daily with stressors that are over-taxing their autonomic (fight or flight) system. They are silently struggling and feel as if they have nowhere to go or no one to speak with about their struggles. When a fight or flight system is constantly activated due to stress, it can produce large amounts of cortisol, which is dangerous for the mind and the body. Furthermore, the frequent activation of the autonomic nervous system for long periods makes it easier for the body to enter a stressful, anxious, or depressed state.


A man struggling with stress and depression
Struggling alone is a dangerous place to be in

Depression and suicide are the leading causes of death among men (Chatmon, 2020). In 2020, it was estimated that six million men were affected by depression every year. Men die by suicide at a rate four times higher than that of women. The troubling part of this research is that men are still the least likely to seek mental health assistance when compared to women. There is a large gap between the number of men experiencing mental health issues and those actively looking for treatment for their struggles. Mental health has gained notoriety as a silent killer, specifically among men.


A leading cause for the lack of treatment-seeking action among men is a stigma surrounding mental health (Chatmon, 2020). Mental health stigma can include social, personal, professional, and cultural stigmas. Social stigma refers to negative beliefs or disapproval aimed at a person or group experiencing a mental health concern. This stems from a misconception that if a person is suffering from a mental health illness, they are of weak character. Self-stigma is when the social stigma is internalized by the person suffering from the mental health issue, believing they are of a weak character, which leads to feeling shame. Professional stigma is the concern that health professionals will transfer and reinforce the stigmatization of the people they help. Cultural stigma refers to how individual cultures interpret mental health issues.


According to Chatmon (2022), American men are subjected to a cultural standard of masculinity that is killing them. Toxic masculinity contributes to the issue by restricting certain behaviors among men based on gender roles. It can lead to struggles with expressing emotions and reinforce aggressive and violent behavior, specifically among boys. Adherence to this standard can worsen mental health issues, create physical health issues, negatively impact interpersonal interactions, and discourage men from seeking help with mental health.


If you want to encourage men to seek help with their mental health, there are options available. Educating men about the fact that the things they are experiencing are ordinary and that many people go through these struggles and overcome them (Winerman, 2005). We should use relatable terms when discussing this topic and avoid clinical or stigmatized terminology. It has been my experience that if you provide education with real-world examples, men are very receptive to the information because it relates to their daily lives. Allowing them to speak, ask questions, and answer patiently goes a long way.



Reference

Chatmon B. N. (2020). Males and Mental Health Stigma. American journal of men's health, 14(4), 1557988320949322. https://doi.org/10.1177/1557988320949322


Winerman L. (2005). Helping men to help themselves. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/jun05/helping

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