While more people than ever before are starting conversations about mental health and breaking the taboo around the subject, male suicide rates are still very alarming, particularly when it comes to young men and depression. Research suggests that many men have a harder time getting help and seeking treatment for mental illness. Sadly, much of society fails to recognize the widespread mental health stigma that prevents many men from getting the help they need when they need it the most.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 2017 saw 3.45% more men commit suicide than women. In the US alone, around six million men each year will suffer from depression, according to Mental Health America. Depression and suicide are now ranked as a leading cause of death among young men, but statistics show that they are still less likely to seek help than women. Why is depression such a huge problem for young men, and what can we do to help?
Mental Health Stigma:
Toxic masculinity is still alive and well, although more of us are beginning to recognize it for what it is, and many men are thankfully beginning to reject it. However, this does not take away from the fact that many men face a lot of stigma surrounding mental health due to the toxic masculinity problem. Many guys still see depression as a sign of weakness due to this problem and don’t want to admit that they need help. Many people still have an outdated view of mental illness, seeing it as a personal failing rather than a genuine health problem. This, coupled with the pressure on men to be strong and macho, has led to many men struggling to open up and admit that they need help. Thankfully, this top ten list of online therapy services aimed at men show some are beginning to break down the stigma and offer more accessible mental health resources.
Toxic masculinity has been a theme throughout the lives of many men. Compared to girls who are often encouraged to talk about feelings and show emotions, many boys are taught to always be strong and quiet. ‘Boys don’t cry’ has led to more problems than most would like to admit when it comes to men’s mental health, with many young men and indeed men of any age having been conditioned throughout childhood to believe that it is wrong to show any negative emotions or open up about how they are feeling, simply because they are men.
Reducing the Stigma:
While much of the world is taking positive steps towards mental health, there is still much more that can be done for young men. Reducing the stigma means helping young men avoid falling prey to the idea that they should be strong enough to sort out their problems without outside support and encouraging them to show vulnerability. Helping young men work through this by accepting them, creating more transparency around mental health issues, and educating people on the fact that mental health issues are medical issues are some of the first places to start. Whether you have men in your family, friendship group, or place of work, being open about mental health and vocal about the fact that you believe seeking help is strong rather than weak can make a huge difference.
When to Ask for Help:
If you are worried about your own mental health or are concerned that somebody you care about might be struggling, there are some important signs to look out for that could indicate it is time to seek help. Changes in mood, a difference in work performance, feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and a lack of interest in things that you or they used to enjoy, and physical symptoms like stomach issues or headaches can all be signs of depression that are best worked through with a professional.
If you recognize any of these signs in a loved one, bear in mind that they might be reluctant to get help at first due to the issues mentioned above. It is worth talking to them and reminding them that seeking help is often a sign of strength rather than weakness. You might also want to point them to some mental health resources that they might find useful. For many men who struggle with getting help for mental health, online or phone therapy is often more ideal since it allows them to be more in control of the situation. They can get the help that they need from the comfort of their own home rather than visiting a therapist’s office, which can be quite daunting for anybody at first.
Many men are still suffering from mental health in silence, believing that getting help is a sign of weakness. No matter who you are, getting the message across that men are allowed to feel this way and asking for help no matter what is important to tackle the problem.
Featured Photo by Christian Erfurt on Unsplash