May is Mental Health Month
Recognize ways to help men and their mental health
May is recognized as Mental Health Month, providing an invaluable opportunity to raise awareness and understanding about mental health issues. While mental health affects almost all individuals, it is crucial to shed light on the unique and modern challenges faced by men.
In this blog, we explore and discuss the significance of Mental Health Month, delve into mental health issues that commonly affect men, and discuss practical ways in which…
Families and communities can support men in their daily lives!
Mental Health Month:
Why it matters
Mental Health Month is an annual observance dedicated to increasing awareness and eradicating the stigma surrounding mental health. By shining a spotlight on mental health, we can encourage open discussions, promote early intervention, and foster an environment of support and empathy.
Mental Health Month offers a platform to educate individuals about mental health conditions; their prevalence in society and differing communities; and the importance of seeking help when, where, and how it’s needed most. This month serves as a reminder that mental health is an integral part of one’s overall well-being and deserves certainly deserves our attention, recognition, and care.
Another consideration not to be understated relates to how mental health has been affected as a result of the COVID-19, worldwide pandemic. “The unique impact of COVID-19 on boys and men [can be seen] both physically and emotionally because of difficulties with males engaging in health care, particularly mental health.”
Mental Health Issues that Affect Men
Men face unique mental health challenges influenced by societal expectations, cultural norms, and other factors uniquely affecting men in a modern capacity. Although mental health conditions do not discriminate based on gender, some issues are particularly prevalent among men and boys.
Depression, anxiety, and suicide are among the key mental health concerns that impact men and boys disproportionately.
Men and boys often exhibit different symptoms of depression, such as irritability, anger, and social withdrawal. These behavioral moments can be mistaken as signs of anger management issues or other mental conditions. It’s important to recognize the signs, symptoms, and ways that mental health can show up among men and boys. Accordingly, depression can go unrecognized and untreated, leading to serious consequences affecting individuals, family members, community partners, or even fellows within the workplace.
Men and young boys can commonly face societal pressure to appear strong, and self-reliant, or are asked to “tough it out,” and “act like a man.” This reality can make it harder, especially for young boys and teen men to acknowledge, seek help, or talk about the anxiety they experience. Additionally, anxiety disorders can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and insomnia. Men and boys also experience panic attacks, which can result in a different array of symptoms; men often have “a more difficult time detecting and labeling [their] emotions.”
Men and even teen boys have higher suicide rates compared to women, largely due to factors such as reluctance to seek help, social isolation, and societal expectations of strength and invulnerability. Men and boys often don’t feel comfortable bringing up their feelings or vulnerabilities, keeping them suffering in silence. Breaking the silence surrounding suicide and encouraging men and boys to have open conversations is crucial in preventing this tragic loss of life.
Even more concerning, a 2018 Men’s Health Network study, written by Jessica Oshiro, found that “among Service members in active duty, all services, the rate of suicide is 23.3[%] among males and 9.7[%] among females.” And along with “all Service members that completed suicide, 93% were among males and 7% among females,” expressing the disproportionate rate that suicide and mental health issues affecting men and boys.
Supporting Men’s Mental Health:
The role of families and communities
Families and communities play a pivotal role in supporting men’s mental health and creating an environment that fosters well-being.
Here are some practical ways to help:
1. Encourage Open Dialogue:
Create a space where men can openly express their emotions without fear of judgment or ridicule. Encourage conversations about mental health and actively listen to their experiences.
2. Break Stereotypes:
Challenge traditional notions of masculinity that discourage men from seeking help. Promote the idea that seeking support is a sign of strength rather than weakness.
3. Promote Self-Care:
Encourage men to prioritize self-care activities that promote mental well-being, such as exercise, meditation, hobbies, and time for relaxation. Foster a culture where self-care is seen as essential and not as a luxury.
4. Educate on Warning Signs:
Learn about the warning signs of common mental health conditions to identify when someone may be struggling. Encourage men to seek professional help when needed and provide information about available resources.
5. Offer Support:
Offer a helping hand to men who may be struggling by reaching out, checking in on them regularly, and offering a listening ear. Let them know that they are not alone and that support is available.
Reminder to All for Mental Health Month
Mental Health Month serves as a reminder that mental health is a vital aspect of overall well-being for all individuals. By acknowledging the specific mental health issues that affect men and providing support at the family and community levels, we can help create a society that nurtures men’s mental health. Together, we can break down barriers, eradicate stigma, and ensure that men and boys receive the care and support they need and deserve.
Supporting Men this Mental Health Month with Added Resources:
Online screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine if you’re experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. Screenings are free, confidential, and scientifically validated.
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline:
The 988 Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support to people in distress –you don’t need to be suicidal to reach out. Call 1-800-273-8255 to be connected with a crisis counselor. Crisis counselors who speak Spanish are available at 1-888-628-9454.
When you text 988, you will complete a short survey letting the crisis counselor know a little about your situation. You will be connected with a trained crisis counselor in a crisis center who will answer the text, provide support, and share additional resources if needed.
Donate and make a difference for men in your life:
Donating to help Men’s Health Network can make a difference in improving the health and well-being of men. It can support research, education, and advocacy efforts to prevent and treat health issues that disproportionately affect men, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health.
By contributing to Men’s Health Network, you can help promote awareness and access to healthcare for men, ultimately leading to a healthier and happier population.