Disclaimer: If you are currently experiencing thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or 988 or text the Crisis Line at 741741. You can also go to your nearest emergency room.
This blog shares information on men’s mental health, and why it is important. While this statement may come as an obvious truth, the reality of the situation is that men’s mental health is often downplayed. It can be the subject of jokes, discouraged to discuss in certain cultures, and otherwise not taken seriously.
Mental health and emotions in general are important to take seriously for all; however, for men, it is often a taboo subject. This contributes to men having to repress or stuff down valid and important feelings and thoughts. It also prevents them from seeking out mental health treatment for common and treatable symptoms. Not acknowledging and addressing mental health can lead to tragic outcomes. The facts around men’s mental health in America are sobering to read, and speak for themselves.
According to Mental Health America, over 6 million men suffer from depression per year, and it often goes undiagnosed. Men are 4 times as likely to die by suicide than women, and gay men are at an increased risk for suicide attempts before the age of 25.
Alongside this, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states that the rate of suicide is highest in middle aged men, with firearms accounting for over 50% of all suicides.
Beyond gender alone, there are several risk factors for suicide and mental health issues. This includes social isolation, substance abuse, military-related trauma, genetic predisposition, and more that put individuals at a higher risk. Men may also struggle with increased aggression, sadness, and hopelessness for themselves or their future. There may be difficulty in finding settings where they can share otherwise “taboo” emotions or experiences.
It’s crucial for men to begin to feel comfortable sharing their stories and experiences with others.
By doing so, it can help save lives, let others know that they are not alone and promote community, and encourage others to seek out support too. Furthermore, learning to normalize vulnerability can lead to more fulfilling relationships and an overall more grounded sense of self and peace.
Athletes like Kevin Love and John Wall have recently shared their personal stories with mental health and their journey in seeking out support.
Consider checking out Mental Health is Health at halfofus.org for resources and information for yourself or a loved one! Therapy in Simi Valley, CA also provides a space for understanding mental health symptoms and steps to talk to manage them.
Men’s Mental Health is Important: The stigma around seeking help
It’s true that men are less likely than women to seek out mental health support. Mental Health America shared that this can be for various reasons depending on the individual, but commonly because of a reluctance to talk, downplaying their symptoms or emotions, and social expectations and norms.
A reluctance to talk about certain things may stem from the social and familial environment you were raised in. In many ways, you may have been discouraged to speak up about feeling sad, hurt, incompetent, or going through a tough time. Alongside this, it may also not have been taken seriously or acknowledged by important figures such as family members, teachers, and more.
Downplaying your symptoms can also stem from being discouraged to talk with others about emotional pain or acknowledge internal struggles. Examples of downplaying can include saying, “Others probably have it worse than me”, “There is nothing wrong with the way I am”, or “I’ll live, this is nothing serious”. In other words, the symptoms experienced are being written off as not a big deal.
Individual therapy in Simi Valley, CA works with you to understand past traumas that may have contributed to a level of resistance around seeking out support.
The stigma around men seeking mental health help may stem from social stigma, self-stigma, cultural stigma, or professional stigma.
Within Cultural Settings
Most cultures have specific gender roles, which can put certain pressures and expectations on males. One example of this is the idea of masculinity in Hispanic or Latinx cultures. Machismo is defined as an exaggerated sense of manliness, derived from the Spanish word “macho”. It is a commonly held belief in Hispanic communities that men’s purpose is to remain “strong” for the benefit of the family, within work settings, and in society as a whole. Hugo Quintana shared that this upbringing can affect the mental health of Hispanic adolescents, and can be associated with increased domestic and sexual violence.
Within Relational Settings
In intimate relationships, there may be shame associated with having mental health issues, struggling with past trauma, or seeking help. You might feel pressure to be “strong” for your partner, or be the “voice of reason” at all times.” Common phrases you may have heard are: “man up!” “get over it!” “grow a pair!” “you’re the man of the house!” etc. – all of which seek to diminish the validity of men having emotional experiences. Although this language is commonplace in our society, it is highly damaging and discouraging for men who struggle to cope with common, healthy emotions.
You may not want to be perceived as someone who is struggling with mental health issues. This could be due to wanting to maintain an image of being independent, strong, and in control. In reality, this may not be the case for you. Understanding the depth of your emotions and needs can lead to better functioning, reduced unhealthy behaviors, and a stronger ability to tolerate others’ emotions as well. Try to remind yourself that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength – it demonstrates being able to sit with our imperfections and understand we are worthy of acceptance and love despite them.
Trauma therapy in Simi Valley, CA provides you with a space to safely process and learn to cope with symptoms such as increased anger or hopelessness.
It can be difficult to try to live up to others’ expectations, when we know what we want and what we need for ourselves.
Men’s Mental Health is Important: Issues around masculinity
Men may struggle with toxic masculinity on a regular basis. This is defined as the adherence to traditional male gender role expectations that limit the comfortable expression of certain emotions, such as sadness, while amplifying other emotions such as anger. In other words, it is a result of harmful cultural and societal expectations associated with appearing masculine or dominant.
The part about toxic masculinity that is harmful is that it is usually encouraged through normalization of unsafe behaviors, thinking patterns, or perspectives. It refers to the idea that masculinity comes from domination, aggression, and homophobia/transphobia/sexism.
Examples of toxic masculinity include:
- Being told to “toughen up” or “man up” as a young boy/man when having certain emotional expressions, such as crying.
- Devaluing women in numerous areas: opinions, appearances,
- Feelings of shame and avoidance for certain emotional expressions such as crying.
- Extreme desire to be perceived as physically, sexually, or intellectually better than others.
- Devaluation of women’s opinions, appearances, or existence – also playing into gender role expectations that women are inferior in many areas.
- Condemning signs of affection between men and viewing it as sexual attraction over normal displays of love and appreciation, (i.e a father hugging and kissing his son, two friends sitting close together).
- Believing that femininity is a sign of weakness or only gay men can have feminine traits or appearance.
Toxic masculinity may contribute to ongoing issues with general mental health stigma, rape culture, and increased violence or aggression by encouraging men to avoid vulnerability, personal traumas, and act on harmful beliefs.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation, please seek out help and connect with these resources: Coalition for Family Harmony (805) 983-6014, Interface Children & Family Services (805) 485-6114, or loveisrespect.org (1) 866-331-9474.
Men’s Mental Health is Important: Signs to seek out support
It may not always be apparent when someone is in need of help. This could be due to individuals hiding their true feelings or mental state. It could also be if an individual is denying needing any sort of support, or being in a position that they would benefit from it.
It’s important to remember: there is no shame in asking for help. In reality, this can give you a greater sense of control over what is going on in your life. It can be intimidating considering seeking out help. Especially when you may have issues that span over many years of your life. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed, dismissive, and avoid opening up certain wounds.
When issues are left unresolved, they will continue to arise, and can oftentimes begin to show themselves in increasingly apparent ways.
Some signs to seek out support include:
- Increased agitation / irritability on a regular basis.
- Increased feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
- Increased behaviors of acting out violently or aggressively towards others or inanimate objects.
- Increased use of substances such as alcohol, marijuana, pharmaceutical drugs/opiates/narcotics, and more.
- Issues with functioning in school or work settings, being unable to attend to certain tasks or perform as usual.
- Difficulties in relationships with partners, family members, or others.
- Low confidence and low self-esteem, feeling worthless.
Acknowledging the role you play in the lives of others in your life is also crucial.
It may go unconsciously if we are acting in ways that are harmful to ourselves or others. Especially if we were raised to think a certain way, and spend time around others who may have harmful behaviors or tendencies. Consider starting individual therapy in Simi Valley, CA today to begin working towards your personal growth goals.
It is never too late to begin your personal growth journey towards self-love, self-acceptance, and restoring hope in yourself.
In-person therapy in Simi Valley is ideal for those seeking a separate, safe space from their home. Check out our blog on Online Therapy or In Office Therapy to understand what format is best for you.
By seeking out support, you can begin your journey to feeling relief. You don’t have to go through finding the right level of support alone, either. Make sure to check out our blog on 4 Reasons to Start Family Counseling!
Consider calling our therapy group at (805) 774-1506 for a free consultation! Make sure to check out our blog on Therapy: Where to Start for tips on beginning therapy for yourself or your family.
Seek out a validating, safe environment with us today. We will help you get to where you want to be. Our therapists provide teen therapy, individual adult therapy, LGBTQIA+ therapy, anxiety therapy, depression therapy, family therapy, and more in-office in Simi Valley, CA.