Today is the final day of Mental Health Awareness Month!
We hope you have seen more mental health representation, learned about new resources, and will continue to prioritize your mental health and follow along with us. Today we want to put the spotlight on those who identify as men and discuss the unique experiences that are associated with this gender in the context of mental health and mental illness.
If mental health is for everyone, why are we highlighting men?
We know that there is still stigma attached to talking about mental illness, and unfortunately this stigma is even greater for men than the general population. Society places certain social expectations upon men, such as sharing feelings being a sign of weakness. The pressure men face to conform can prevent them from reaching out for the help they need.
1 in 5 men
will develop alcohol dependence in their lifetime
Men die from suicide at approximately
3.5 times the rate that women do
Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis and Schizophrenia, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
are some of the most common mental illnesses among men
While mental illnesses are universal diagnoses, they can be expressed differently among genders. For instance, men who are experiencing depression are generally more likely than women to show any of the following symptoms:
- Increase in alcohol and substance use
- Avoiding family or social situations
- Engaging in risk taking behaviour like gambling or reckless driving
- Feelings of anger, frustration, aggression, and irritability
- Finding it hard to keep up with work or family responsibilities
- Spending an obsessive amount of time on work or sports
- Becoming more controlling or abusive in relationships
Men also tend to exhibit physical changes, such as:
- Tightness in the chest
- Digestive problems
- Joint, limb, or back pain
A great deal of why men are so stigmatized by mental health is due to how our society perpetuates toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity refers to rewarding men for conforming or holding men to exclusively traditional male stereotypes of acting tough, suppressing emotions, physically strong, and dominant. If men do not possess these traits or behaviours, they are thought of to be weak, feminine, or inferior. We are taught this messaging through media, peers, and passed through generations.