Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month is a month-long event during November that highlights the importance of mental health amongst men and spreads awareness surrounding the mental health issues that disproportionately affect men.
Did you know the biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide?
This statistic is unfortunately true.
As with any mental health illness, we never know if figures truly represent what is happening because we’re only made aware of reported and documented cases. Many cases go unreported and undiagnosed and this is especially true for men. There are more reported cases of women facing depression, so does this mean men are less likely to suffer from depression? No. It just means they aren’t as likely to seek support and therefore go underdiagnosed and undertreated.
Whilst many men have increasingly adopted healthier routines when it comes to their physical health, many men still are yet to address the issues they face mentally and emotionally, and are lagging behind women. But contrary to popular belief, it is not because men experience fewer issues, it’s because they are more likely to mask them.
Why Do Men Hide Behind a Mask?
Too many men believe they need to be strong all the time, even if they are in pain because if they don’t, they’ll appear “weak”. For a lot of men, it would be unbearable for others to know they suffer from anxiety, depression, burnout or being overwhelmed by their emotions – leading to them not seeking the help they really need.
Four Reasons Men Don’t Talk About Mental Health
- Awareness Strategies Are Not Targeted Well For Men
Men respond well to humour, dark humour at that because this softens the dialogue around mental health. However, due to this, once men are engaged in the conversation, there is a level of resistance for men to voice their concerns without feeling stigmatised. Therefore, judgement and vulnerability follow when men try to be open about their emotions.
- Men Ask For Help Differently
Men are more likely to accept help when there is a level of reciprocity with someone offering the help. Men don’t like to feel alone in their vulnerability and tend to ward off any feelings associated with “weakness”. Therefore, men prefer to fix issues themselves, before reaching out for help.
- Men Express Emotions Differently
Whilst women’s signs of depression such as sadness and feelings of worthiness may be deemed obvious, for men symptoms tend to show up as irritability, anger and frustration. These behaviours are considered less obvious as signs of depression and are often associated with other things. Lack of awareness around the topic, including the signs and symptoms, leaves many people less informed about mental health in men.
- Generation Divide
Note the aforementioned statistic outlining the biggest killer of men under 45 represents a certain group of men: middle-aged. Middle-aged men of today find themselves sandwiched between two opposite generations, a pre-war ‘silent’ and a post-war ‘me’ generation. This means they may feel stuck somewhere between the strong, silent male stereotype of their paternal ancestors and the softer, open generation of their son’s.
The Importance of Mental Health Support
Whether you’re male or female, believing you don’t require mental health support can be dangerous and detrimental to your overall wellbeing as the person who suffers can face unnecessary emotional pain that can harm their quality of life, health and ability to work.
Furthermore, it continues to add to the stigma surrounding the conversation.
For men, when it comes to mental health, here are some useful tips to adopt:
Never Feel Ashamed
What is fearful to you might not be to someone else, and that’s okay. This might be a phobia or a struggle you personally face; we all have struggles in life. However, none are greater than any other and there is no reason to feel embarrassed to ask for help in moments of need. Mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression are common and they do not discriminate against one gender over the other. Never feel ashamed.
It’s Invisible But You Can Feel It
Just because you can’t see mental illness doesn’t mean it is not real. If you had a broken leg you’d visit the hospital; in the same way we care for our physical health, not getting support for your mental health can be dangerous too. Suppressing feelings of anxiety, depression and other mental health problems doesn’t make them go away – if anything, it makes them knock louder.
Treat It Like Any Other Issue
Treat a mental health issue like any other problem you might face – like fixing a broken car part. By approaching it in a way that means asking for external help, you’ll find more meaningful ways to feel better.
Throughout the month of November, we will be running a challenge; Mental Health Unmasked.
The Everymind at Work Mental Health Unmasked Challenge is designed to make everyone think about what they might be masking in relation to their mental health. It is a tool to aid self-reflection and examine how we present ourselves externally versus how we feel internally. The mask represents the persona you display to others, but this activity aims to help you uncover what it is you may be hiding…what is truly behind the mask. It can be found here.