The Stigma Around Men’s Mental Health
The stigma around men’s mental health is simply not acceptable and needs to change. The idea of men having to just ‘get on with it’ is wrong and society needs to realise this. Everyone is able to experience mental health in some way, so lets not make men feel as if it’s a weakness.
According to Mentalhealth.org, one in eight men suffer from a common mental health problem in England.
Men also report lower levels of life satisfaction than women according to the government’s national well-being survey.
These statistics being so high shows a lot of men are struggling however they are less likely to seek help for mental health conditions compared to women, where only 9% are receiving treatment.
The social stigma around men’s mental health puts a barrier up for them to receive crucial care. But why should men have to feel like they can’t speak out and get help? Many people overlook this topic as it may not affect them and have an expectation of men to just ‘man up’. This view is wrong and needs to be stopped. Toxic masculinity has a big part to play in this. The main reason why more men commit suicide is because of the stigma around getting help. The idea of it being a weakness is a big problem we have in society that men have to act a certain way and are not allowed to be emotional.
Making a change
The days of men having to hold in their emotions and letting them overtake need to be ended. No one is immune to stress, anxiety or feeling low so men shouldn’t be made to feel like they are. The key to stop this is shifting people’s mindsets. It’s time to scrap these old traditions so they stop influencing society’s perception of men. Everyone feels differently, so being open to other’s feelings is essential. Men who have previously suffered or are currently suffering with mental health and feel comfortable speaking about it could share their story. This will open the eyes of people who are holding back their feelings and show them they are not alone. Men are allowed to struggle and have bad days too.
Asking for and getting help
When it comes to men’s mental health, the hardest thing for them is asking for help. Because they do not see other men speaking out, they feel discouraged to do so themselves. This is why we need to normalise the topic.
Although it may not be easy at first to ask for help, remember there are professionals out there who can help you. Here are some ways you can get help:
- Book an appointment with your GP.
- A trained therapist (through the NHS or private health).
- Talking to family/friends.
- Charities – including Mind, CALM, Mental Health Foundation, Rethink Mental Illness.
- Workplace/ Student support.
It is important for men to become more comfortable talking. Although there is a long way to go, the conversation around mental health has grown. This means it is going in the right direction. There are many celebrities who have opened up about their own mental health, which contributes to reducing the stigma. This includes the likes of, Dwayne Johnson, Zayn Malik, and Prince Harry.
Dwayne Johnson explains that “with depression one of the most important things you could realise is that you’re not alone”. He continues to say “I wish I had someone at that time who could pull me aside and say ‘Hey, it’s going to be okay’”.
Zayn Malik mentioned how “anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of” and admitted the “psychological stress of performing had gotten too much”.
Lastly, Prince Harry has previously expressed his struggles over losing his mother. He explained he was “very close to total breakdown on numerous occasions” and disclosed that he has needed therapy.
These well-known people speaking out shows others, especially men, that anyone can suffer from mental health conditions. However, no one should suffer alone.
Supporting loved ones
Supporting a loved one can make a huge difference when it comes to their mental health. It may appear hard at first as you might not know what to do or what the right thing to say is, but that is completely normal. It is important to find the right balance on checking up on someone but not overwhelming them with too many questions. It’s hard to know how a person is going to react. There may be some days where they don’t want to talk and others, they will tell you everything. My advice would be to stay patient and encourage them to talk about their feelings and to get help. Keep in mind that improving your lifestyle can take time after mental health conditions are present. Mind offers a variety of more ways how you can help a loved one.
An important message to always remember is that there is no taboo surrounding mental health. You are NOT alone! Never hesitate to speak out, your feelings are always valid. The stigma around men’s mental health needs to be proved wrong! The best thing to do is speak to someone, help is out there for you.