Stay Home, Stay Well: Men’s Mental Health Matters
Written by: Arielle Karoub
June is Men’s Health Month and it’s time that we focus on men’s mental health. The conversation around mental health with men seems to be forgotten. According to Psychology Today, there is a silent crisis in men’s mental health. There have been elevated rates of suicide and substance abuse with men, but the conversations around mental health for men still seem to be non-existent.
The truth is that every 20 minutes, a man kills himself, according to Psychology Today. Men tend to feel intense pressure of being the provider for their families. The term “breadwinner” is a common role many men are accustomed of being. If a man loses his job or can’t find work, his sense of purpose and meaning in life may be lacking and he may start to feel powerless. But who does he turn to?
High rates of suicide in men do not discriminate. There are elevated rates in veterans, young American Indians, and gay men. Mainstream society puts the pressure on men to be powerful, masculine, and strong figures, leaving no room for emotions, or talking about feelings. Men can also be frowned upon if they don’t have those mainstream characteristics. There can be other terms and derogatory slang used on men who may not be as masculine as society tells them they should be. Does this mean that they aren’t men if they lack this masculinity?
Research shows that men are more likely to engage in substance abuse in response to stressful life transitions such an unemployment and divorce. These experiences of separation and loss can be soul-destroying for anyone, including men. Men are left isolated and alienated from talking about these concerns and their feelings. Because of this mainstream alienation for men, they don’t seek out mental health services as often, when compared to women.
Suicide rates are increasing for men, but we are still at a standstill in regards to having the important conversations. It’s time that we recognize men’s mental health as a social issue as much as a health issue. We also need health departments and different levels of government to get on board to create specific strategies to improve men’s mental health.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, men will experience different symptoms than women if they have a mental health disorder. Some of these symptoms may include the ones below, which can be signs that they might have a mental health disorder and need to seek treatment. The earlier a person seeks treatment, the more effective the treatment will be for the individual.
- Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
- Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge
- Increased worry or feeling stressed
- Misuse of alcohol and/or drugs
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions
- Engaging in high-risk activities
- Aches, headaches, digestive problems without a clear cause
- Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior
- Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life
- Unusual thinking or behaviors that concern other people
Mental health disorders can be treated and should not be looked upon as being “weak” or “unusual.” It is actually normal to have feelings and to seek additional help when having multiple stressors or symptoms of a mental health disorder. Communicating with your preferred provider of your symptoms is key to improve your health and find the right treatment for you. Read about tips to help prepare your visit here: https://bit.ly/2NfvmSe.
NAMI Wake also has a variety of helpful resources as well. Please go to our community resource page here for more information on support groups and resources available near you: https://nami-wake.org/community-resources/.
If you or someone you know is in a crisis, get help immediately. You can call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Stay Home, Stay Well is NAMI Wake’s new blog and video series focused on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In our attempt to create a more mentally healthy community, we will be providing resources each week. We know this is a difficult time in everyone’s lives right now. Our hope is that you find helpful tips, information, and resources in this series on how to stay mentally well at home.