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Silent Suffering: The Mental Health Crisis of Men, Essay Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1325

Essay

Despite the disparity in mental health services, only a few interventions and public awareness campaigns have been designed to improve mental help-seeking among men. There is the stigma surrounding mental illness, but it is far greater in men than women. Depression and suicide are the leading cause of death among men. It is saddening to think that men worldwide commit suicide while suffocating in silence as they suffer from mental health. Based on the Psychology Today report, approximately 70% of males commit suicide globally, meaning one man commits suicide every 20 minutes, and six million males suffer from depression yearly in the United States. Sadly, few men realize they are struggling. These statistics are troubling because they emphasize the notion that men are more likely than women to experience mental health disorders, but they are less likely to seek help. Toxic masculinity, stigma, and social expectations based on gender have negatively impacted men’s mental health. Thus, there is an increasing mental health struggle for men. Given the prevalence of mental health issues and the dangers of ignoring them, it is essential to design strategies to improve help-seeking and therapy among men.

In a 2018 report, World Health Organization noted that cultural stigma surrounding mental health is among the leading factors causing people to suffer silently struggling with mental health instead of seeking help. There exists a double-standard with mental illness between men and women. Although mental illness affects both genders, it is often overlooked in males. Men are suffering and, because of the stigma, forced to assume the existence of the illness. According to Chatmon, in his article “Males and Mental Health Stigma,” Men’s stigma stems from masculinity concepts and lack of mental health literacy, such that they do not recognize mental problems as real issues to watch out for. Society expects men to be fixers and providers; while these expectations are not inherently wrong, they can make it challenging for them to open up or seek help when they cannot fulfill these roles. Notably, society expects men to show no vulnerability or weakness, contributing to stigma. Therefore, men openly talking about their mental health problems is often seen as taboo. Research shows that men are more likely to abuse drugs or use other escapist behaviors as potentially coping methods than women. Men are taught to transmute their emotional suffering from a tender age into anger. They indulge in dangerous activities as they struggle with mental health issues, and ultimately majority commit suicide.

Additionally, men are subjected to masculine norms that are the socially and culturally expected behavior associated with manhood and men across a culture. In the article “Reviewing the Assumptions about Men’s Mental Health.” Smith, Mouzon, and Elliot note that men and women are traditionally accustomed to think, act, and emote differently based on gender. The societal expectation of men is that they should be less emotionally dependent and empathetic than women. Toxic masculinity is closely attached to certain restrictions in behaviors based on gender roles that intensify existing power structures favoring men. Toxic masculinity often leads to difficulty expressing emotions because society expects boys to play rough; hence normalization of the phrase “boys will be boys.” They are usually allowed not to follow the rules, including substance abuse or interpersonal violence. Such conceptions foster problems with externalizing problems and aggression whereby men hide internalizing symptoms, solve emotional problems, or discuss sensitive issues because they fear stigma. This masculine identity influences men not to seek help from people within their social networks or professions whenever they face problems.

Mental health disorders are among the top five causes of disabilities and death in the United States. And according to Healthy People 2020, neuropsychiatric disorders account for approximately 18.7% of disability-caused deaths and premature mortality. These disorders play an important role in people’s ability to maintain good physical health, which improves productivity within a nation and within the self. Mental health is described as a silent epidemic that has crept into the lives of many men, and as a public health concern, it needs attention. The first step to addressing mental health issues is through enhancing education about mental health. In his article, DeAngelis notes that it is important breaking down the stigma surrounding this topic and change how men and society think about depression, other mental health problems, and suicide. Better mental health education will help men change the idea of seeking help from the point of weakness to a necessary step in maintaining good health. Like physical fitness that helps individuals stay strong, mental health will help men sustain a good mental state. Managing stress and other mental-related issues positively impacts an individual’s physical and mental illness. Instead of living under the stigma of seeking professional mental health help, men will willingly receive mental health services if they are educated on the issue.

Furthermore, since mental health services prioritize factors such as in-depth self-disclosure, emotional vulnerability, and opening-up, they are inherently “feminized.” This is a consequence of men not wanting therapy and their mental health not being prioritized. Smith, Mouzon, and Elliot advocate for the redefinition of manhood needs. There should be a transformation in changing the world’s culture and accept, a world where men are comfortable expressing themselves and seeking professional help without stigmatizing them. Markedly, stigma could also come from an individual. Men may mistakenly believe that mental health and depression are signs of personal weakness, or they should be able to control it without seeking professional help. Lastly, social support is the most common coping method within the mental health society. Ideally, men have less emotionally supportive social networks than women. Therefore, having a confidant is the first step to seeking help, especially for someone holding back from getting professional help. Society should reassure men that seeking counseling and therapy about mental health conditions and connecting with other sufferings helps overcome destructive behaviors and improve self-esteem notes (Affleck, Carmichael, and Whitley, 6).

However, although educating men on mental health will help increase opportunities for support and reduce stigma, men may still experience shame and guilt from having mental health problems leading to the cycle of not seeking help. Mental health is an issue affecting both men and women, and although, as discussed, men suffer the most in silence, women too suffer. Society has developed a stigma on mental health, and many people, women included, struggle admitting they need therapy and counseling.

In conclusion, the strong argument is that men have more mental health problems than women but rarely seek professional help or share with their social network. Feminizing mental health is the leading practice, followed by cultural stigma and toxic masculinity that underestimates mental health problems. When ignored, mental health issues affect life expectancy and physical health. In addition, it leads to high-risk behaviors such as gambling, substance abuse, and other addictive behaviors. Although society expects men to be the providers, unheeded emotional problems affect their ability to fully function in society and family, thus “failing” as providers. Men need to overcome all the barriers of seeking help on mental health problems and thereby promote healing and mental wellness. Young boys should be taught at a young age that showing vulnerability does not take away manhood but helps heal rather than acting tough and silently suffering in crisis. These interventions will increase the propensity for men to divulge feelings, thus increasing mental health care utilization among them.

Work Cited

Affleck, William, Victoria Carmichael, and Rob Whitley. “Men’s mental health: Social determinants and implications for services.” The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 63.9 (2018): 581-589.

Chatmon, Benita N. “Males and Mental Health Stigma.” (2020): 1557988320949322. doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1177%2F1557988320949322

DeAngelis, T. “Mental illness and violence: debunking myths, addressing realities.” Mon Psychol 52 (2021). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2021/04/ce-mental-illness

Healthy People 2020. Mental Health and Mental Disorders. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/mental-health-and-mental-disorders

Smith, Dena T., Dawne M. Mouzon, and Marta Elliott. “Reviewing the assumptions about men’s mental health: An exploration of the gender binary.” American journal of men’s health 12.1 (2018): 78-89. doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1177%2F1557988316630953

WHO. National suicide prevention strategies: progress, examples, and indicators. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/national-suicide-prevention-strategies-progress-examples-and-indicators

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