Men’s health week serves to raise awareness of health problems men face, as well as encourage early detection and treatment of diseases. Although mental health problems impact everyone, the stigma attached to men’s mental health may make it difficult for some to discuss and seek treatment.
Societal Stigma and Myths Surrounding Mental Health
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, men with mental illnesses are less likely to receive mental health treatment than women. The Mental Health Foundation points to societal expectations and traditional gender roles as a main reason why men don’t seek help.
“Men are often expected to be the breadwinners and to be strong, dominant and in control. While these aren’t inherently bad things, they can make it harder for men to reach out for help and open up.”
Men are also more likely to abuse substances as a form of coping instead of talking to friends or family. Some may not even be able to recognize mild symptoms and therefore do not seek proper treatment until the problem is too difficult to handle.
According to the American Psychological Association, about 30% of men suffer from depression. The National Alliance on Mental Illness breaks down 5 myths that prevent men from fighting depression. These include depression being seen as a weakness and that talking about it won’t help.
Acknowledging that depression is a health condition — and not a personal flaw — helps break down the stigma men face. It’s also important to highlight that “ignoring depression won’t make it go away.” Treatments like psychotherapy can provide new perspectives and help individuals develop coping skills.
Knowing The Signs of Mental Illnesses
“Recognizing the signs that you or someone you love may have a mental disorder is the first step toward getting treatment. The earlier that treatment begins, the more effective it can be.”
It is important to note that men and women experience different symptoms when facing the same mental health issues. Specialists at the National Institute of Mental Health highlight that some symptoms can be physiological, such as digestive issues or headaches. These health issues are what men are more likely to see their doctor about.
The National Institute of Mental Health breaks down the following warning signs of mental disorders in men:
- Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
- Noticeable 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/or drugs
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions
- Engaging in high-risk activities
- Aches, headaches, digestive problems without a clear cause
- Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior
- Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life
- Unusual thinking or behaviors that concern other people
Mental health professionals are able to provide accurate diagnoses and effective treatment plans. These plans may include therapies and/or medication. According to MentalHelp.Net, the benefits of seeking treatment include:
- Gaining a better understanding of your condition
- Reducing symptoms and improving quality of life
- Enabling you to set and achieve specific wellness goals
- Improving your ability to deal with stress
- Helping improve your relationships
- Reducing or eliminating negative or destructive behaviors
The website also highlights that telehealth tools facilitate seeking help by providing “safer and easier“ access for men who are not comfortable with traditional treatment. MedEZ’s EHR platform provides essential telehealth tools for mental health providers, including online patient portals and Zoom integration.