Let's Get Real About Men's Mental Health

Updated: Mar 12, 2019

By: Michele Salinas

According to Psychology Today, over 75% of suicide victims in the United States are men.

If that statistic doesn’t immediately make you want to check on your guy friends, I’m not sure what will. Mental health, among men, is so poorly spoken about because of socialization of masculinity and men's reluctance to admit there is something wrong.

With Kanye West’s countless twitter spirals, it’s important to acknowledge men do experience mental disorders just as severely as women do. The biggest difference being that men are less likely than women to seek help.

We are a very “woke” generation on matters of importance, and yet we haven’t allowed our men to express themselves without feeling judged or weak.

In 2018, the media highlighted men’s mental health on multiple occasions due to celebrities such as Kanye West, Mac Miller, Pete Davidson and even Diddy in light of the death of his ex-wife, Kim Porter.

Despite so many conversations centered around mental health, there is still a stigma. Men believe that talking about their feelings makes them weak or gives others the opportunities to judge them poorly because of it.

When preparing for this story, I created a survey and shared it on Twitter hoping to obtain as a large number of responses. Unfortunately, I received twelve responses. Many of responses were very similar to one another. This showed me how unwilling men can be to talking about their mental health.

My first question was, “Do you take your mental health seriously?” Out of the 12 responses, 10 replied “yes” and the other 2 said “no.” I didn’t doubt that majority would say yes, what I did doubt was how they were caring for their mental health, which brought me to one of the following questions: “In what ways do you cope with stress?”

Half of the answers were healthy and the other half were destructive. Many said they turned to drugs, alcohol or sex to cope while others gave answers we could all use: Reflecting, listening to music, or talking to their loved ones.

Photo Credit: Authorhina

It’s easy for us to say we’re conscious of our mental health, but choosing healthy ways to overcome our pains and struggles is easier said than done.

It can be difficult for some to talk about their feelings; if that isn’t what works best for you, there are other ways to cope such as going to the gym or journaling.

When talking to a friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, he mentioned that he has close friends he can talk to but chooses to keep to himself. I asked why and his answer was similar to those mentioned in the survey -- his fear of being judged.

When I asked, “What hinders you from being open about your feelings?” Some responses were: “Fear of breach of privacy,” “Can’t trust anybody,” “No one wants to hear someone complain all the time;” and while all these answers are valid, my advice to the men is to surround themselves with people who they can trust with their feelings.

My best friend knows she always has someone to talk to and be open with no matter how often she wants to vent. As a true friend, I would never make her feel like she’s alone or can’t express herself.

I think that men who feel they’re a burden on others while expressing themselves may need to reassess the people they surround themselves with. Choosing people who are open to hearing about your stressors are people worth keeping around rather than those who will laugh further perpetuating the stigma.

Men: Be more conscious of your mental health in 2019. Try to find a person with whom you can be vulnerable with, avoid closing off your feelings, and stop pretending that you don’t have them at all. If there is no one you feel you can turn to, there are tons of sources such as hotlines, online and in-person therapy:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Mental Health Hotline: 1-(866)-308-2184

Online Therapy

While online therapy is not free, it is convenient and this website can help you choose the best payment option for you.

Psychology Today

Find the perfect therapist for you (covered by insurance and the most convenient location)

Although we are already three months into a New Year, I think something to improve on is how we treat one another. Let’s make sure we’re caring for the mental health of our loved ones in our everyday lives.

Remember to be kind and understanding towards your friends. Ask how they’re feeling and keep yourself involved. We never know what our friends are closed off about and what pains they are holding onto. We never want our friends to feel alone.

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