According to Mental Health America, 6 million men suffer from depression every year. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s findings on mental health in 2017 also indicates that men die by suicide at a higher rate than women every year. In fact, suicide and depression rank as the leading causes of death for men.
When a man is mentally ill, the effects can be devastating. Besides the threat of taking his life, he might also try harmful coping strategies like drugs and alcohol, which may cause physical health diseases like liver problems, brain damage, and premature death. Every year, 62,000 men die due to alcohol-related causes, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Because most men who are mentally ill don’t look for help, many cases of mental illnesses in men remain undiagnosed. For the family members and loved ones of such a man, relating with him can be emotionally draining, exhausting, and painful.
However, this doesn’t mean that a mental illness diagnosis provides soothing relief. Many times, it also attracts stress and anxiety for his loved ones. They must learn to communicate in a supportive way while dedicating time to getting him adequate support. Despite this, a diagnosis is still the start of the journey towards healing.
What is Mental health?
When a man’s emotional, psychological, or social life hits bottom and begins to spiral out of his control, it’s appropriate to assume that he needs support with his mental health.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC),” Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”
Seeking support for mental health challenges doesn’t indicate a lack of will or laziness. In many ways, mental illnesses are just like physical illnesses. Just as more exposure to bacteria doesn’t cure a cold, listening to more adrenaline-pumping speeches won’t heal a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Common Types of Mental Health Challenges Men Face
1. Depression. This condition keeps men feeling low and drained, emotionally and psychologically. When undiagnosed and untreated, depression might trigger worse outcomes like feelings of suicide.
2. Anxiety Disorder. This condition is synonymous with uncontrollable feelings of fear, an emotion that society teaches men to conceal or bury. Yet, many still struggle with different variations of anxiety – social anxiety disorder (SAD) which causes intense fear in social situations, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a condition characterized by the desire to repeat a series of habits to feel safe.
3. Substance Abuse or Dependence. Sometimes, substance abuse is portrayed in culture and media as “a normal way for men to deal with pain and frustration.” But using drugs or any substance unhealthily is a symptom of deeper mental health issues.
4. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), PTSD is “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma… Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.”
Warning Signs that a Man Is Mentally Ill
- An obsessive desire to use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with trauma.
- A persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness, or self-hate.
- Having high levels of irritability and anger.
- Inability to recover from trauma.
- Constantly thinking about suicide.
- High levels of social anxiety.
What Men With Mental Health Challenges Should Do
- Consult a mental health therapist. A professional will tell if the symptoms you’re facing indicate a mental illness and what steps you should take afterward.
- Join a support group consisting of members who have experienced mental illness. Depending on your schedule, location and preference, these groups can be in-person or virtual. Your group members can help you stand firm in a society where mental illness is stigmatized.
- Open up to friends who are knowledgeable about mental health and want the best for you.
- Build a network of friends and acquaintances whose expectations of masculinity don’t match toxic masculine norms and patriarchal standards.
- Start living a healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet, avoid unhealthy food and get the recommended amount of sleep. Avoid the company of toxic people and trolls, both online and in person.
When a loved one’s illness is diagnosed as a mental condition, it’s normal to feel worried. But there’s a bright light – recovery is possible if there’s adequate support. Here’s how to help:
- Learn more about mental health. After a few minutes of studying, from blogs like this or through a therapist, you’ll be able to impact their lives more positively.
- Be observant. Watch out for mood changes.
- If possible, offer to help them find a therapist and support groups.
- Be positive at all times. Many who struggle with mental illnesses already have feelings of anxiety and sadness. Avoid saying or doing anything that can dampen their mood.
- Stay healthy. You can’t offer much help if you’re not emotionally or psychologically healthy.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, it may be time to reach out for help. Contact us to schedule your first session.