There’s something of a stigma when it comes to men’s mental health, and this can leave many men struggling to come to terms with their own emotions. Indeed, mental health is a challenge that many men face in silence.
Difficulties with mental health are issues faced by men of all ages, lifestyles, and the like; no matter the type of background you come from, the job position you hold, your financial position, or any other factor that we might assume could play a role, we’re all at risk of low mental health and struggles. And, to this end, the time is now for us as a community to learn to look past the stigma of men’s mental health to begin supporting one another – and this is something that Movember is all about. After all, beyond the fun of wearing silly moustaches, Movember has a hugely important message promoting men’s health overall.
The Scale of the Problem
Men’s mental health, at first glance, might not seem like a major issue. After all, many of us don’t even know many men who have struggled with mental health concerns; in comparison to the number of women who share their experiences and struggles, it can even seem like mental health is a challenge that men simply don’t face. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Unfortunately, a significant part of the problem regarding men’s mental health is the stigma associated with men sharing their feelings. All too often, men find it difficult to share their feelings and emotions, and this can lead to men bottling up their feelings and hesitating to share them.
A Hidden Challenge
The scale of men’s mental health difficulties is, in a word, terrifying. In fact, a survey commission by Priory found that around 77% of men have experienced depression, anxiety, or stress at some point. Furthermore, according to the Mental Health Foundation, three times as many men as women take their own life; this is supported by statistics taken since 1990, which suggest that approximately 75% of all completed suicides are by men.
And yet, we still operate on the assumption that men don’t struggle with mental health concerns, simply because we don’t share feelings or hear about other men’s struggles. Unfortunately, there’s a stigma that sharing emotions and feelings (other than perhaps passion or anger) is “unmanly” – and this stigma is destroying many men’s quality of life.
Tackling the Stigma of Men’s Mental Health
The stigma of men’s mental health is something that must be addressed, and there are a few ways we – as a society – can go about this. However, one of the most crucial is ensuring that we all know the scale of the issue, which in turn can help someone who is struggling to realise that, in fact, they’re not alone.
There’s nothing “unmanly” or “weak” about sharing your feelings when you’re feeling low and need help. In fact, it’s perhaps one of the bravest things you can do, to face the stigma head-on and get the support you need, be it from a professional or simply from friends and family members. So, please don’t bottle things up; if you need support, there are so many people out there waiting to help you!
A staggering number of men are facing mental health challenges alone, but it shouldn’t have to be this way. Movember is all about challenging this and tackling the norm to help more men get the support they need. After all, men’s mental health is just as important as women’s. Still, the stigma against sharing emotions is something that leaves so many men feeling alone and burdened by their troubles.
Nevertheless, tackling the stigma of men’s mental health shouldn’t be impossible, and there are ways that we, as a society, can begin facing this crucial issue.
In the workplace we need more men to talk about their lived experiences of struggling with mental health issues. This includes men at the top. We must all be prepared to share, when those at the top show their experience of vulnerability, others will know it is OK to talk about mental health.
We also need to create environments where talking about our mental health is just a natural, everyday event, nothing special. Encouraging everyone to discuss their overall health, to understand how their behaviour changes when they are struggling and to provide a framework for open conversations, all help to normalise discussions around mental health at work.
It’s quite literally the difference between life and death. This is something that we all need to take seriously if we are to begin combatting long-ingrained traditions about “manliness” and support one another when we need it most.