May is Mental Health Awareness month. For men, vulnerability is not socially acceptable, nor is it taught. Men’s mental health is an important but often overlooked issue.
There’s no denying that women are more likely than men to show their emotions. Males are conditioned to believe expressing their feelings violates the masculine identity from an early age. In doing so, they may lose their image of being strong and stoic. Males are primarily warned that crying in public will undermine their masculinity.
In regards to mental health, the same can be said. Studies have shown that women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety. However, men also deal with mental health disorders and mental distress. According to 2019 WHO report on the suicide rate around the world, with an estimated rate of suicide per 1,00,000 population, 14 men and 11 women commit suicide. Furthermore, the suicide rate among men is much higher. They say a shocking 20 per cent of Indian men are clinically depressed, which often results in drug and alcohol abuse, suicide and domestic violence.
Mental health problems affect both men and women. Despite this, there are a number of notable differences between the issues affecting them and those factors influencing them. Despite the fact that they differ in many ways from women’s, men’s mental health issues are no less important. Concerningly, men are more reluctant to seek treatment when they have problems.
The different influencing factors are that men’s issues can be caused or triggered by different factors than those that affect women. A man’s issues are often rooted in societal expectations and traditional gender roles, leading him to think that:
● He should be the breadwinner in the family
● He must possess traditional masculine traits, such as strength and control
● He must rely on himself rather than asking for help
● Or by not communicating openly about what he feels with others
Men’s experiences with mental health can vary depending on their genetics, life experiences, socio-economic status, gender, and many other factors. Simply put, it varies from person to person.
It is particularly difficult for many men to understand and manage their mental health.
How can you help?
Check out these six tips for looking after your mental health and looking out for your male friends. Keep in mind that these tips aren’t just for men. Anybody can benefit from them.
Consult your doctor
Speak to your doctor if you’re struggling with mental issues. It can seem overwhelming but your doctor should be aware of these things, and it is your best first step towards feeling better.
Don’t close yourself off
Mental health has ups and downs for all of us, so you don’t have to be embarrassed about it. You may feel better if you discuss it with your friends, family, and colleagues. Openness also normalizes mental health conversations.
Take time to spend with your loved ones
Your mental health depends so much on your relationships. People with depression especially need to nurture their relationships.
Your brain releases endorphins when you move your body, which can help you feel better about yourself and improve your well-being. It has also been proven that exercise can help with anxiety and depression.
Become a member of a mental health support group
Sharing your experiences with others in similar situations can provide emotional support. In addition, you will learn how to manage your mental health while making new friends.
Keep an eye out for the men around you:
Please reach out to your friends and family if you are concerned. Sending a quick message can help. Show your support and listen carefully. If they’re nervous, offer to go with them to their appointments if they need help from a medical professional.
Lastly, it’s vital to consider how important your mental health is as well as your physical health. Make sure you take time to take care of your mind just as you do to your body.
By Andra Filina
(The author is the final year student of Master of Arts in Mass Communication and Journalism, Kristu Jayanti College (Autonomous), Bengaluru)
Image by Wokandapix