When men’s health is talked about or even thought about, it is common to automatically resort to their physical health rather than their mental health. There is a known stigma that revolves around men and their emotions, as well as their well-being and tends to resonate with most men, this being known as men’s “silent crisis” or “toxic masculinity”, where the only “genuine,” “proper,” or “ideal” way to be a man is to exhibit stereotypical masculine actions and values (power, authority, strength, and invulnerability). Men are thought of to be tough and largely independent, the ones who show no fear and present themselves as strong through any given situation or circumstance. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with being these things, the result of having these expectations can be extremely damaging to a male’s mental well-being, as they hold in their emotions and tend to deal with mental hardships on their own without seeking help or feeling as if they are capable to reach out to someone.
To provide insight and additional knowledge on the topic of men’s mental health, Homewood Health presents numerous facts and statistics such as the following:
- Around 10% of Canadian men experience significant mental health challenges in their life (1)
- Approximately one million Canadian men suffer from major depression each year (2)
- On average, approximately 4,000 Canadians take their own life each year, of those suicides; 75% are men
- Gay men have a higher rate of depression, anxiety, suicidality, self-harm, and substance abuse in comparison to their heterosexual counterparts
Acknowledging the Stigma
Stigmas related with mental health are widespread in our society. Men endure the additional stigma that getting treatment for mental health is a show of weakness, that ‘real men’ do not seek help, and that discussing conditions such as anxiety and depression would not help. Men frequently face additional bias within their male peers, with the perceived assumption that mental health issues make men a problem to others, and that men should be able to regulate and control their own emotions. Regardless of the stigmas, we must stop making men feel inferior if they feel the urge to address mental health difficulties or concerns. Men will continue to suffer in silence unless they receive help and understanding, and they will face deteriorating or more intense issues with mental health illnesses.
Support Men, Stop the Stigma
There are numerous ways each individual, no matter the gender, can do to help support men in the mental challenges they may face, as well as helping to address and end the stigma that has been forming around male mental health and male stereotyping. To start, we can listen, enabling men to process their challenges by letting their emotions out to someone who will not judge but just attempt to comprehend what that individual is going through mentally. By listening, we demonstrate that there is no judgement, and if we respond to attempt to support these men, we are doing so in a considerate manner that is empathetic and demonstrates compassion, which will hopefully encourage men to speak up more often about their mental health. We can further assist in support men’s mental health by asking what you can do to help. By asking an individual what you can do to help them through their mental trials there is a show of support and care for that male to pursue action on improving their mental well-being, as well as increasing the positivity of seeking help to further aid in men breaking the silence around any type of emotional distress. Also by asking what you can do to help, you are able to prompt them to seek more professional help or the help that is most appropriate for them, as well as showing optimism and encouragement in the form of support.
The information provided in this blog is not professional medical advice and should not be considered as such. If you or someone around you is suffering from mental health related issues it is greatly encouraged to seek advice from a medical professional.