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Men’s Mental Health Stigma

Man working out in a park with his wife

Mental health plays a vital role in an individual’s whole body wellness. So, as you would seek professional help to address a physical ailment, you should also do the same if you’re experiencing depression, anxiety, or difficulty coping with certain situations. Too often, however, people, particularly males, fear social stigmas and would rather keep their emotions hidden from others to avoid shame.

The truth is regardless of your gender, both men and women will struggle with mental health, but according to Psychology Today, men are less likely to seek support and address the issue. This may be due to preexisting social stigmas created by the media, within family circles, or even within our own understanding of mental health.

Media’s Role in Men’s Mental Health Stigma

“Whether it’s a film, news program, newspaper or TV show, the media perpetuates many myths about mental illness,” (PsychCentral). Common misconceptions may include:

  • Violent – people living with a mental illness are often portrayed as violent, harmful to others, and abusive.

  • Unpredictable – individuals are viewed as uncanny, reckless, and unstable, making them a threat to others.

  • Less than Human – Because most people living with a mental health condition are identified (a.k.a labeled) by their illness vs. their own individual contributions to society, they are seen as little else, or sometimes, less of a person.

Because these serious stigmas exist, men fear they will be viewed the same way: “… men may legitimately fear being stereotyped by their family, friends, and colleagues as prone to crime and violence if they disclose mental health issues,” (Psychology Today).

To learn more about mental health stigmas in the media, and why they are more geared toward men than women, read this study.

Family’s Role in Men’s Mental Health Stigma

Mental health stigmas can start for men when they’re very young. For instance, some family dynamics may discourage boys from showing vulnerability or crying. Instead, they may be told to “man up”, “act like a man”, or a number of similar phrases that you, yourself, may be familiar with. As a result, boys may be conditioned to think that anger is the only “socially acceptable” emotion for males to exhibit.

As men subscribe to these masculine ideals, they, too, may start to stigmatize and shame the idea of mental illness and needing psychological help. And because of this, they may find other ways to cope with depression, such as drug and/or alcohol abuse.

Our Own Role in Men’s Mental Health Stigma

One other area we’d like to cover in this article is the lack of education many people have about mental health, its symptoms, its treatment, and its effect on our bodies.

For instance, we all feel depressed or discouraged when life takes an unexpected turn (e.g., job cut, loss of loved one, breakup, etc.). It’s a normal part of living. But what happens if these feelings start to affect our self-esteem, confidence, and relationship with others. What do we do when these feelings persist for weeks or even months? Do we still think this is natural and that it will pass, or are we experiencing something that may require professional help?

Education and understanding the signs and symptoms of a mental health condition can help you seek early intervention: “You may not recognize how much your symptoms affect you, or you may not want to admit to yourself or to anyone else that you’re depressed. But ignoring, suppressing or masking depression with unhealthy behavior will only worsen the negative emotions” (The Mayo Clinic).

Next, let’s talk about treatment. There’s a common misconception that treating a mental health condition involves the use of heavy medication for people to function “normally.” The truth is your treatment plan will depend on many factors, including personal and family health history, vitamin levels, hormonal balance, etc. And your doctor may prescribe a combination of certain medications, lifestyle changes, therapies, and other types of protective treatments to help get to the root of the issue, so you’re able to live a healthy, happy life.

Remember, just as every person is different, no treatment will ever be the same.

Fighting the Stigma

Today, men’s health doctors, mental health experts, and other professionals are working together to help stop men’s mental health stigma as a whole.

Though it may be daunting to ask for help at first, understand that there are dedicated health professionals, like our team at EveresT Men’s Health, who are here to support you and your wellness needs. We invite you to schedule an appointment to learn how we can help you identify your whole-body health needs with proactive healthcare.

Contact us to get started on your journey to optimal health!