The main reasons men don’t report their mental health conditions include:
Lack of Awareness: A general lack of awareness about mental health and openness to treat emotional problems are also another contributor to men not wanting to come forward and discuss mental health.
Stigma: Societal gender roles dictate that real men don’t express emotions. They just “man up”. If they are seeking help, they may be looked down upon and considered a cry baby. This results into a lot of pressure for the men to open up about their feelings and be vulnerable.
Toxic Masculinity: Femininity and masculinity refer to the degree to which an individual identifies themselves as masculine and feminine given what it means to be a man or woman in society. Masculinity is a trait that emphasizes ambition, acquisition of wealth and femininity is a trait focussed on nurturing and caring. Femininity and masculinity are defined on social aspects and not biological. Most of the times male define themselves as more masculine and females as more feminine. But there is a possibility that a male might see himself as more feminine or a female might feel herself as more masculine.
Patriarchal mindset supports the notion that males are breadwinners and females are homemakers. The males of the house are treated differently as they have to grow and be breadwinners. They are expected to have the strength and courage to handle difficult situations outside the house as well as inside. There is expectation to have the ability to control everything in the house and outside. Strength has been equated to not expressing emotion.
These values have been getting transmitted through the socialization process from generations. It is so highly rooted that on many occasions we fail to even notice how it affects and will continue to affect generations that will come. We often hear that the patriarchal mindset is skewed to benefit men more than women but it hurts men deeply and emotionally. Toxic masculinity teaches men to be quiet and strong and strength is equal to not expressing emotions.
The major causes of mental health issues in men include work pressure, financial issues and their health. Many report having never spoken to anyone about their mental health as they feel embarrassed or they don’t want to burden other people.
Some of the major signs that indicate one needs the help of a professional include:
- Feeling of Sadness
- Marked changes in appetite or sleep or sexual energy
- Fatigue, tiredness
- Lack of concentration
- Overthinking and constant worry
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Weight changes
- Physical symptoms like headaches and gastrointestinal problems
- Feeling disconnected
- Illogical thinking
- Unusual Behaviour
- Reduced functioning
Some of the symptoms are more common in men than women:
- Substance abuse
- Anger and Irritability
- Working crazy hours
- Reckless behaviour
- Sleep Issues
The few steps that are needed at addressing these issues include better mental health education & awareness, inclusion and acceptance of each being. There is no definite way we can avoid having a mental health condition but we can reduce its risk by practicing the below points:
- Practice positive lifestyle choices – like eating a balanced diet, exercising and maintaining the sleep schedule.
- Learning meditation, mindfulness, relaxation techniques to cope with stressful situations.
- Staying connected with family and friends.
- Seeking professional help if unable to manage any symptoms on their own.
- To prevent relapse, continue the required medication and therapy techniques as recommended.
If you notice your loved one suffering silently, help them:
- To identify if they are suffering or not, look for changes in their mood and behaviour, diet, sleep etc.
- Notice if they are withdrawing from family or friends or isolating self.
- Talking to them at regular intervals, if they are undergoing a difficult phase of their
life or have gone through trauma. It is always helpful when a loved one is around to help during a difficult time.
- Encourage them to seek help from a mental health expert.
- Accompany them to the mental health clinic, help them with the appointment booking.
- If they are suicidal, it is important that they are not left alone.