Men’s mental health: ignored, outcasted, important

Toby Scales, Staff Writer

Men’s mental health is an often overlooked, but severe topic. While November is men’s mental health month, it tends to be written off as a joke or something that shouldn’t be taken as a real issue. Nearly 1 in 10 men suffer from depression, but are much less likely to seek professional help as it’s seen as “weak.”

75 percent of all suicides are men, especially those aged 12-24. Bullying and violence are much more common in male-dominated spaces, as it’s frequently encouraged under the guise of “masculinity” and “boys will be boys” comments. Men are also more likely to abuse substances, especially alcohol, which can impair judgment and lead to more impulsive decisions.

Over six million men suffer from depression. This is severely underdiagnosed, as men are more prone to unhealthy coping strategies to combat these issues, such as more risky and unsafe decisions like reckless driving (ADAA). As mental health issues simmer over time, without any assistance from outside forces, on average, men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women at the ages of 45-54 (CDC).

While men are clearly suffering, their mental health is simply ignored. Silently, men as young as 12 experience their issues almost entirely alone. Senior Jackson Alexander says, in reaction to their own struggles, “most [men] my age will do one of a few things: deny and deflect, smoke or vape, kill themselves, or actually work through it.”

The stigma around mental health is the most common reason men avoid treatment for depression and anxiety. Gender roles of strength and stoic nature create a barrier for men, when attempting to help themselves or male peers with these struggles, as they avoid feeling outcasted or feminine.

Men with mental health issues are not supported with the resources that they deserve. Without anyone to help sail through the storm, they are left to their own devices, often to drown.

Men’s mental health is treated as an afterthought, which seems unfair as they make up half the population, they are someone’s family. If we tend to men’s well-being, we could likely prevent many issues of violence and unhealthy behaviors like addiction in males.

When asked what other men in his age group can do about mental health problems, senior Sean Porter says that they should “stop ignoring it. If they stopped ignoring their problems, and just asked for help, then so many men could be living better lives right now.”

The fact that men are so often blocking themselves from thinking about their own pain does not create a good pathway to healing. Most men will just ignore their problem, or replace the feeling with substances or unhealthy behaviors. If there is no room to even let the man who is hurting consider the “why” of his struggles, how will anything else help?

The way men brush off their own mental health leaves these men to decide how they will approach their own issues. However, if we all destigmatize the idea of seeing a therapist or doctor, men’s lives could improve and change for the better. If you have a man in your life who you know is struggling, encourage conversation about mental health issues, and “a shoulder to cry on would still be effective,” says Porter.