Men's Health Week
This week is used to highlight the issues surrounding the status of means health. This is important to highlight as the health status of males is typically poorer than that of females. There is a sigma surrounding men's health which leads to men being less likely than women to seek out mental health services, despite the rate of mental health disorders being similar. It has been found that men are also twice more likely to turn to destructive coping mechanisms such as drugs and alcohol and are three times more likely to commit suicide.
These statistics are frightening, and makes us wonder why is there such a distinct difference?
There is no one answer. There are a range of psychological, physical and environmental factors potentially contributing to this issue. However, one factor that seems to stand out is the way in which men tend to deal with stress and worry. Between the stigma surrounding mental illness and the pressure for men to always be ‘strong’, a lot of men struggle to reach out when they may need help.
We are here to debunk some of the myths that may be influence how men deal with mental health issues.
Myth 1: Mental illness means you’re weak.
Simply put, mental illness is not in any way mental weakness. Just like physical illness, mental illness can affect anyone and can often be outside of one's control. Mental illness can be brought on by a range of factors such as abnormal brain chemistry, substance abuse, or response to stressful/traumatic events.
Myth 2: Real men don't ask for help.
Being vulnerable and open with others can be difficult, so if anything, asking for help actually shows one's courage and strength. This can be through reaching out to a professional, a loved one, or even someone you look up to – everyone can benefit from reaching out when they feel they need to.
Myth 3: Talking about it won't help.
Sometimes receiving advice from someone with a different perspective can really help bring light to a situation and help people understand and work through their struggles in a different light. While talking about it won't necessarily act as a ‘quick fix’, it can often help make sense of the situation and allow the feeling of being more supported and less alone.
Myth 4: Asking for help will burden others.
Asking for help by no means makes you a burden, people want to provide support the ones they love. Most people are bound to es through a time in their lives where they need the support of others. Taking a step towards being open and asking for this support can end up encouraging those around you to reach out when they need it. This is the first step to fostering open and honest relationships.
These four myths are just a some of the reasons that may make it difficult for men to reach out for support. There are still some serious stigmas surrounding men's mental health which won't go away overnight. However, taking steps towards breaking down this stigma will help in the long run. Acknowledge that these attitudes exist, be aware of how your own beliefs might be influenced, and don't be afraid to call out problematic comments. Stand up for those around you, and don’t forget to lend a hand when needed.