In the post-pandemic world, mental health issues are on a rise for everyone, including men. According to the CDC, the symptoms of anxiety and depression have almost tripled in the general population!
While mental health interventions were not adequate for men in the first place, the isolation and lack of a feeling of safety has further driven men to unhealthy behaviours like substance abuse. Not only are men less likely to reach out for help, but even fail to recognise when help is needed due to the lack of awareness about men’s mental health.
In 2020, the KIRAN helpline was started by the government in an attempt to make mental health crisis intervention more accessible. The helpline reported receiving almost 30,000 calls everyday out of which almost 70% of the callers were men. This huge number is even more alarming considering that suicide has climbed up to be the 7th most common cause of death in men, almost 3 times for likely than in women.
Despite these concerning statistics, men’s mental health continues to be an ignored issue.
There are multiple social and cultural factors that contribute to the lack of conversation around men’s mental health.
Generational beliefs are still rooted in many people, painting men as self-reliant, emotionless, violent, independent, etc. These beliefs are internalised in the population, as a means to define masculinity from a young age. Not only does this discourage men to reach out for support but to even acknowledge their own vulnerability.
Further, men and young boys often face criticism for “going against the norm” by simply expressing their needs and emotions. These acts further internalise the narrative of “asking for help makes you weak” or “real men don’t cry” and so on.
Additionally, facing such punishments from a young age can in fact make boys more prone to engaging in harmful acts of ‘hyper-masculinity’ to prove their identity. These include acts like picking fights, being short-tempered, having aggressive behaviour, and may even promote substance abuse from a young age. This exaggeration of male stereotypical behaviour is both reinforced and internalised!
According to widespread belief, men are not considered to be prone to mental health issues. But in reality, there are a range of severe mental health issues that are highly common in men, just as other genders of the society.
Here are the 4 most common mental health issues faced by men:
Abusing substances like hallucinogens, marijuana, alcohol, painkillers, etc is two times more likely in men as compared to women. It is also more socially acceptable in men and thus, often gets in the way of receiving proper treatment for it. Further, substance abuse interventions have low success rates and are highly stigmatised.
All these factors contribute to making young men more prone to abusing substances and less likely to seek help for the same. Substance abuse is often not recognised as a mental health disorder in many cultures and invites a lot of criticism for the person dealing with it, further reducing the success rates.
While depression and anxiety are equally as common in men as women, it often goes undetected because men show different signs of them. Men are less likely to show their symptoms like fatigue, change in appetite and mood, isolation, sleep issues, restlessness, suicidal ideations, feeling low, etc.
It is highly uncommon for men to cry or share about their experiences when facing depression and anxiety, which makes them more prone to acting on their intrusive and suicidal thoughts.
Eating disorders are considered common in teen girls and women. However, it is found that men are equally prone to body image issues and eating disorders, especially with the rise of social media. However, the numbers are severely underreported due to the shame and stigma attached to it.
60% of men face at least one trauma in their life. These traumatic events could be anything, from accidents, long term illnesses, loss of a loved one to combat, war, witnessing a death or so on.
PTSD symptoms can interfere with one’s daily life functions like sleeping, socialising, forming relationships, appetite, mood, etc. These dysfunctions can cause severe mental and behavioural issues that men often do not seek help for due to the lack of awareness about PTSD symptoms and how to cope with them.
Even though it is daunting, it is necessary to look out for the signs and symptoms of mental health issues in yourself and your loved ones and take the step of reaching out to a qualified mental health professional.
The first step of raising awareness about men’s mental health issues is educating yourself. Know that mental health issues are not restricted by gender and can affect anyone! Suffering from them or seeking help does not make anyone weak.
In fact, we need to promote more anonymous and safe spaces to initiate conversations in order to make mental healthcare accessible and affordable.
If you relate with the article, please consider seeking proper help. heyy, strives to provide a safe space for all its users. Download heyy, to get 24×7 access to trained mental health professionals, equipped to address your emotional concerns.