Traditionally, men are taught from a young age that they must measure up to a tough façade. But expecting men to be protectors or leaders and correlating them with anger and aggression can be destructive. The tainted belief to “act like a man” has significantly influenced how men perceive themselves and their place in the world.

Men face emotional and physical abuse and need mental health interventions to prevent trauma-related concerns, addictions, or behavioral issues. The problem is the stigma that surrounds men and mental health.

Although more women reportedly suffer from depression every year than men, depression and suicide are the leading causes of death among men in America.

Men are more likely to cultivate a substance use disorder than women, and more men have drug and alcohol dependencies than women. Sixty-two thousand men die from alcohol-related causes every year, while the number of women who die from equivalent causes every year in the U.S. is 26,000—less than half the number of male deaths related to alcohol.

These astonishing numbers show us that men are far less likely to pursue treatment for their mental health issues but still suffer from mental health problems in increased numbers.

The Weight of Men’s Mental Health

American men are exposed to a culture where the standard of masculinity is destroying their mental health. The “boys will be boys” mentality has created a world where men feel they can’t convey any feelings, resulting in men’s difficulty expressing emotions.

These extreme masculine norms are damaging to men’s mental health and other areas of life and can lead to the following:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Health risks, such as cardiovascular or metabolic disease
  • Dating and interpersonal intimacy issues
  • Interpersonal violence issues
  • Psychological distress issues
  • Discouragement in seeking help
  • Homophobia

When the negative impact is increased mental health issues, substance misuse often follows. Men struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders and avoid healthy coping mechanisms because they have been raised to “be tough” and instead turn to alcohol or drugs to numb their pain.

The only way to help men learn that emotions don’t degrade them or make them weak is by instilling that truth at a young age. As a society, it’s crucial to remember that everyone is human, and finding healthy ways to process emotions is essential for all of us, specifically men.

Establishing Social Connections

Some men have a more challenging time establishing social connections. Social networks can act as a barrier against stressful or adverse life experiences on mental health or the onset of mental health disorders, such as depression and suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Social connections can also increase the probability of individuals with mental health issues seeking professional help. When people have a support system, they feel empowered and encouraged to succeed in their mental health recovery journey.

Warning Signs for Men’s Mental Health

Men and women can experience different symptoms of the same mental health disorder. This observation might reflect differing views of mental health, both among health care providers and men themselves.

Men are more likely to seek help for physical symptoms of mental health disorders. However, they may disregard emotional symptoms, disguising the sadness of depression as anger, irritability, or aggressive behavior. Self-medication with drugs or alcohol is common among men, worsening symptoms and causing the development of other health concerns.

The National Institute of Mental Health lists several symptoms that may be warning signs of mental illness in men, including:

  • Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
  • Changes in mood, energy level, or appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless or on edge
  • Increased worry or feeling stressed
  • Misuse of alcohol and drugs
  • Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Aches, headaches, or digestive problems without a clear cause
  • Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior
  • Unusual thinking or behaviors, including high-risk activities

The dangers of ignoring the warning signs only result in negative consequences. As a society, it’s important to remember that everyone is human, and finding healthy ways to process emotions is essential for all of us, especially men. Masculinity needs to be looked at through a different lens. There must be a revolution in changing the American culture where males are more comfortable articulating themselves and how they feel.

Men who may be experiencing mental health issues are susceptible to the isolation COVID-19 produces. This isolation may heighten the precursors of mental illness, therefore adding to the significance of overcoming the barriers to accessing mental health resources among those less likely to seek professional help.

Mental health disorders in men must be reexamined. Men’s mental health must be addressed, and the only way to help is by breaking the stigma surrounding men and mental health. Crownview Co-Occurring Institute in Oceanside, CA, wants to help. We have developed an innovative approach to treating men’s unique challenges when managing mental illness or emotional traumas at CCI. Our personalized treatment plans guarantee that each client receives quality care with effective results. We will support you from crisis to independence at CCI by providing a compassionate team of professionals ready to help you take back your life. Let CCI help you on your way to long-term recovery. Call 760.433.4357 today to learn about our effective treatment programs. If you need assistance and live outside of California, SAMHSA offers the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to help find mental health services near you.

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