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Mental HealthMen’s Mental Health: Challenges and Barriers to Treatment

One in five American adults is affected by a mental health disorder. While there’s no known difference in the biochemical impacts of mental illnesses like depression and PTSD between men and women, there are dramatically different outcomes.

Men face unique challenges in facing mental illness and accessing quality care. Here are some common barriers to treatment and difficulties men face in acknowledging and seeking help for mental health disorders.

Stigmas Surrounding Toxic Masculinity

One of the pervasive issues in men seeking support for mental health issues is toxic masculinity. This phenomenon ties into traditional gender roles surrounding how a male should behave and what’s expected from them. Traditionally, men were taught that sharing emotions or feeling vulnerable is wrong. This leads to bottling emotions and a lack of emotional processing skills.

According to Alta Loma Transformational Services, toxic masculinity in conjunction with mental illness leads to familial disruptions and can even lead to sexual violence and aggression. Note that this isn’t an excuse for those behaviors but could be a mitigating factor in developing these tendencies.

When boys or men are told that crying makes them weak or that they should “get over it,” it creates barriers to asking for help and seeking mental health support. Working to break this cycle and increasing awareness about men’s mental health issues is an important first step in reducing toxic masculinity as a barrier to treatment.

Relationship to Mental Health and Financial Issues

Men tend to have a higher correlation between mental illness and financial issues, often creating a vicious cycle. This relationship is also rooted in toxic masculinity, as men were traditionally considered the providers. Consider that women have only been active members of the workforce since WWI. That means traditional gender roles and reflections around men as providers have only shifted in recent generations.

As men’s mental health is often closely tied to financial stress, economic shifts throughout history have a significant impact. This is another important consideration as we head into a recession.

Increased Likelihood of Substance Abuse

Men are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, try illicit drugs, and fall victim to substance abuse than women. Again, there’s an underlying relationship between the inability to process emotions healthily and using substances as an unhealthy coping mechanism.

Substance abuse and addiction also correlate with further financial instability and poor emotional processing. It’s important to recognize these cycles and correlations when helping men with mental health disorders.

Higher Suicide Risk

Men are 3-4 times more likely to die by suicide than women. This statistic is eye-opening and highlights the gaps in healthcare access for men facing mental health issues. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 40% of countries have a high ratio of male suicides, at 15 suicide deaths per 100,000 men. Comparatively, only 1.5% of countries have the same metrics for women in suicide deaths. This is especially startling since women are more likely to develop depression than men (though it’s highly likely that men are going undiagnosed).

The high suicide risk for men facing mental illness is comprised of many of the issues listed above: gender norms, toxic masculinity, etc. It shows that many men struggle in silence and a cultural shift is essential.

Lack of Access to Male-Centric Resources

There are many women-centric mental health resources. The need for these programs is valid: women need a safe space, as many have faced abuse-related trauma. However, it’s important to have male-centric resources to help make mental health treatment more approachable.

Destroying the stigmas around men’s mental health and overcoming toxic masculinity will take time and dedication. Consider your words when speaking to a partner, brother, or son. Recognize when someone is perpetuating stereotypes and call them on it. Most importantly, let the men in your life know there is help.

This post has been sponsored by outreachmama

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Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz! aims to be the destination of choice when it comes to what’s happening in the digital health world. We are not about news and views, but informative articles and thoughts to apply in your business.

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