Men need mental health too

The time to change the stigma behind mental illness in men is now

Hanna Malone, Staff Writer

Men’s mental health is being over looked and things have to change. Mental illness impacts both men and women, yet conversations about men struggling with it are not happening and men are not receiving the help and treatment that women are offered.

Studies done by the National Institute of Mental Health show that nearly one in five men live with mental illness, and that each year, approximately 6 million males are affected by depression in the United States. Men of color make up a high percentage of these statistics. Men also make up a greater number of suicides per year.

With an epidemic of mental illness heavily affecting men, why is it that they are the least talked about when it comes to mental health?

Society needs to move past the dated stigma that shrouds the presence of mental illness in men. Real change starts with conversations educating people on the importance of mental health. The toxic idea that men should not show emotion is seriously harmful.

Due to the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, many men refuse to get proper treatment. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and many other diagnosed illnesses are overlooked and underdiscussed because of these gender and societal expectations.

Too many boys are told treatment for these disorders is emasculating and as a result, they are taught that getting help is a sign of weakness. This leads to men not reaching out when they are living with mental illness and need help.

The stigma surrounding mental illness in women is much less severe than it is for men. It’s 2019, and as a whole, society has grown significantly in accepting a diverse range of beliefs, values, and needs of people. Why can’t we accept the fact that men have feelings too, and sometimes they need help? Men need to be given the opportunity to step forward and ask for mental support in times of struggle. It is really important that they have someone to confide in without any judgement— they are human too.

Psychology Today author and psychiatry research scientist, Rob Whitley, argues that men’s mental health needs to be “recognized as a social issue as much as a health issue.”

Society has a dangerous tendency to expect men to only have so many feelings. From a young age, messages that men receive from guardians, coaches, teachers, and other authoritative figures as they grow up strengthens this mindset that getting help is a show of weakness, and this way of thinking follows them into adulthood.

The display and promotion of these characteristics of “masculinity” can be detrimental to a man’s mentality. It plants the false idea that getting help is not an option because they would lose part what makes them strong.

However, when someone opens up about how they are feeling it can be one of the strongest and bravest things that someone could possibly do, as it involves putting pride to the side in order to better themselves.

As a friend it is important to be open to your friends about things that are going on in your life. If you are dealing with mental illness, it’s important to reach out for help.

The stigma surrounding mental health in men is not unfixable.  By understanding mental illness and its signs, you can support those affected and help them to get resources. These open conversations will comfort those who are struggling.

Educating others about mental health should be a more common practice in schools and workplaces. It is vital to know the symptoms and signs of someone who is struggling and ways to help them; it is important to know the overall impact that mental health has on a person.

You can help reduce the ever-present stigma associated with mental disorders and advocate for a society where men asking for help is normalized.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call 1-800-273-8255