The prevalence of mental health disorders affects both men and women. While the statistics are not equal in some categories, gender differences are still considered when assessing the occurrence of certain mental health disorders in both men and women. For example, more women appear to experience anxiety, depression and somatic complaints — while more men are diagnosed with substance-use dependance and antisocial disorders.
However, mental health issues still plague men, contributing to anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. More than six million men have depression every year. In severe cases, it can even lead to suicide. While there are a variety of risk factors and gender-specific experiences that separate men’s and women’s mental health issues, stereotypes greatly affect men’s mental health and related issues.
This could mean that men aren’t receiving the help they need to combat their mental health issues. They silently suffer, succumbing to their problems and the stigma.
Common Stereotypes of Men’s Mental Health
Here are some stereotypes men deal with in regard to their own mental health:
“Men shouldn’t show emotions.”
Culturally, men are strongly encouraged to “just deal with it.” This recurring theme can be learned from parents, mass media, peers, etc. This leaves a void in conversations, where men tend to not reveal their emotions. This can lead to an overall lack of communication and a domino effect with anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. It could also lead to dependance on substances and sex and contribute to overall unhappiness because men don’t know how to communicate about their emotions. So, they bottle them inside. This leads to strains in relationships, work and more.
“Men should just deal with their stress.”
If you suffer from anxiety and/or panic attacks, you know how you feel when they occur. You may feel like you’re having a heart attack or even dying. It’s one of the most scary things someone can go through. We all get overwhelmed, no matter the gender. Pushing your panic attack or other stressors (like relationships, jobs, finances, children and more) to the side will not work. Addressing them head on and accepting them are two of the major steps that will help you feel better and prevent further, more severe mental health issues in the future. There’s nothing more empowering that surviving a panic attack and realizing that you are OK.
“You will be weak if you get help.”
Men often refrain from seeking therapy — or even talking about anxiety or depression — because they are afraid of the perceptions. They don’t want their significant others, family, friends, coworkers and others to find out that they are having trouble and can tend to keep their secret to themselves.
How To Combat Stereotypes
This is especially important in your closest relationships. If you are feeling overwhelmed, talk with significant others. Even if they don’t understand, you will be able to express how to freely feel, which can relieve stress and anxiety. You can work through problems more effectively. It can been difficult to take this first step, but take action for yourself and those around you. Spend time with your friends and do the things you love (being outdoors, playing video games, watching a favorite Netflix show) to de-stress.
Tell your story.
There’s nothing like sharing your own experiences with others to denounce masculine stereotypes. Talk with someone you trust. Often, people will understand, as they are going through some of the same issues themselves or know someone else who has endured them.
Join an organization tackling the pressing issues.
The Movember Foundation has a collection of resources, tips and organizations that will aid you as you learn more about your mental health disorder and/or how to communicate about it. Get involved and help others like you. Fight the stigma together.
Get the help you need.
Find a therapist near you to receive the tools you need to improve your quality of life and address your pressing mental health issues. A professional will be able to tell you exactly what you can do to manage your mental health.
If you have a mental health issue and a stigma is holding you back, seek out a licensed professional to talk with you about your disorder and its effects and solutions.