When is Mens Mental Health Month?: Reducing the Stigma

Wednesday, June 14 2023

If you Google “What does it mean to be manly” you’ll find results that range from being “brave” or “courageous” to being “bold” and “resolute.” Gender stereotypes about men are plenty and can negatively affect how they approach mental health. Men are often expected to be strong and in control. Crying or talking about their feelings can be considered weak. This can make it harder for men to speak up and ask for help due to fear of judgment or ridicule from others.

Learn more about men’s mental health and why it’s important to break the stigma around mental health for all men so they can get the support they deserve without feeling ashamed or embarrassed about it.

When is men’s mental health month?

Men’s Health Month is celebrated every year in June — a time when we recognize the connection between physical health and mental health and how important it is for men to care for their mental health. As we celebrate men’s mental health awareness in June, it’s important to recognize the need for mental health care for men as part of their whole-person health. That’s because the stigma around mental health, and especially that for men, can prevent them from seeking help when they need it most.

Why is there stigma associated with men and mental health?

Mental health is already a difficult topic to bring up for many people. The stigma around mental health exists today, even though we’ve made a lot of progress toward normalizing conversations around mental health. For men, the stigma around mental health is especially high. Men are less likely than women to seek treatment, in part because of social norms, reluctance to talk about their mental health, and because they may downplay or minimize the importance of their symptoms. Many people still approach the idea of mental health with stereotypes or prejudices, especially in the use of language that perpetuates stigma. For many men, speaking up about their mental health is seen as a sign of weakness. The societal pressures to “tough it out” or “man up” contributes to the stigma that men face when speaking up about their mental health. Other things that may affect men and their ability to speak up are culture, fatherhood, race, and socioeconomic status. 

Men face many mental health challenges

It might be easy to think that mental health concerns do not affect men. The reality is far from that. In fact, men are affected by mental health challenges and the numbers can be staggering. Here are a few of the challenges that men face:

  • Over 6 million men experience depression every year, but male depression often goes underdiagnosed.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are more likely to die by suicide than women. Despite these higher rates of suicide, men have lower reported rates of depression, which is a significant risk factor for suicide. 
  • More than 3 million men in the U.S. have panic disorder, agoraphobia, or other types of phobias. 
  • 2.3 million Americans are affected by bipolar disorder, including both men and women. 
  • Though men account for about 10% of patients with bulimia or anorexia, men with an eating disorder are less likely to seek professional help. 
  • One of the leading causes of disability in America is schizophrenia. Approximately 3.5 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed, and 90% of those who are diagnosed by age 30 are men.

How can we reduce stigma around men’s mental health?

Stigma can be pervasive, but there are things you can do to raise awareness and reduce stigma in yourself and those around you:

  • Do not feel embarrassed or ashamed. Having a mental challenge is not a sign of personal weakness. There is no shame in asking for support. In fact, talking to your doctor about your concerns or talking to a therapist is a sign that you are taking the steps to take charge of your health and your life.
  • Seek support from others. Talk to a friend, family member, or community member who you trust. If they know about your concerns, they can help support you and find ways to help you navigate any challenges. They can become your biggest cheerleaders. 
  • Don’t equate yourself with a mental health challenge. Instead of saying “I’m bipolar” say “I have bipolar disorder.” Instead of saying “I’m an alcoholic” say “I have an alcohol use disorder.” Words have a lot of power, so use them intentionally.
  • Advocate for mental health care. There are many ways for you to raise awareness about mental health to reduce stigma. You can volunteer for mental health nonprofits, participate in awareness events, or reach out to your community to advocate for mental health services in your schools, churches, and local area.

How can therapy help with men’s mental health issues?

Given that mental health challenges affect men in many different ways, it’s important for men to know that therapy can help. Talk therapy is treatment that aims to help you identify and change emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that are interfering with your quality of life. Talk therapy is usually done with a licensed, trained mental health professional in a one-on-one setting. It can also be done in a group setting, with couples, or with families. You might hear “talk therapy” referred to as “psychotherapy.” They’re both the same thing. 

In certain situations, talk therapy is combined with medications as part of a person’s treatment plan. Learn more about the differences between psychiatry and psychotherapy. People will respond differently to different types of talk therapy. As a therapist explores your interests and concerns, they will work with you to create a treatment plan tailored to your needs.

Don’t let fear or lack of knowledge about therapy prevent you from seeking help. There are many reasons why people seek therapy — these might include to manage stress and anxiety, deal with grief and loss, control substance use, navigate relationship issues, or even manage everyday challenges and life changes. And like most journeys in life, the path you’ll follow throughout therapy won’t be linear. There may be twists and turns along the way, and the real work will happen in between sessions. Your therapist will be there to guide you along the way, and will work with you to help you reach your goals. Getting treatment takes courage and can help you get back on track with your work and personal life. 

Being brave means speaking up when you need help

So what does it mean to be bold and strong and in control? It means taking charge of your health, and that includes your mental health. It means reaching out for support when you need it. There is no reason to tough it out or man it up. There is no shame in getting the tools and coping skills you will learn in therapy to manage your mental health and stay on track. In fact, reaching out is a sign of courage. 

SonderMind can help connect you with a licensed therapist who will work to understand your needs, and then help you develop a game plan that is individualized for you and your goals. To connect with a therapist, just let us know what you’re looking for, and we’ll find a therapist who is the right fit for you. 

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