Men struggle with mental health as often as women. However, for their entire lives, they are told to “walk it off” after facing some sort of physical injury. After years of walking off some physical injuries, men believe they can use that same approach to all health problems, even mental health. It is difficult to do something you were not taught to do or that you feel will not help, and even harder when you feel it is a sign of weakness.
Why Men Don’t Seek Help
It does not make sense that a man would not seek help if he understands that there is a problem right? After all, when you have a problem you find a solution, right?
There are a few things to consider. First, mental health is something that is not widely taught in the school curriculum. This means that because the topic of mental health is not mandated, most men will not bother to learn about it.
After all, if someone believes that they are healthy and stable, why would they go to the doctor? This is the same mindset and attitude men have when it comes to mental health. “Why go to a therapist? I’m feeling fine!”
Similarly suggesting that someone should go to a therapist is like saying they should go to a doctor, it implies that the person is weak and needs external help. This is flawed thinking but it’s the kind of thinking that is reinforced with media and society.
Even if a man knows something is wrong, he will often not want to seek help because he does not want to appear weak. It is the idea that "real men don’t have mental illness."
Signs of Mental Illness
Unfortunately, it is true that men are more likely to die by suicide than women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Much like catching early symptoms of an illness can help treat it better, recognizing the signs of a mental disorder can help treatment be more effective. According to The National Institute of Mental Health, such signs include:
Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite
Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge
Increased worry or feeling stressed
Misuse of alcohol and/or drugs
Sadness or hopelessness
Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions
Engaging in high-risk activities
Aches, headaches, digestive problems without a clear cause
Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior
Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life
Unusual thinking or behaviors that concern other people
It's hard to get someone to do something that they don’t think will benefit them or be a waste of time. When dealing with someone with a mental illness, it is important to remain calm and speak in a soft and controlled tone of voice. Use this mental health tool to help you understand what the other person is going through, and maybe even use it with them. There is help available in the form of individual counseling, group therapy, and now there are many more online mental health options. The first step is recognizing that there is a problem and then approach it with love.