Today marks the start of Men’s health week dedicated to raising awareness and support for men’s health issues. So this week let’s talk a little about men’s mental health and wellness. It’s a startling figure that three to four times as many men commit suicide each year compared to women. Men are much less likely to seek help when struggling with mental health or life difficulties.
Men can be just as susceptible to societal images and expectations of gender. Concepts such as the need to be strong, unemotional, successful and self-reliant are often big deterrents in admitting there is a problem and reaching out to friends, family or a professional for someone to talk to. 1 in 8 men will experience depression in their lifetimes. Risk factors that lead to anxiety and depression in men can stem from problems with relationships, work and employment, health, social isolation, drug and alcohol use and significant changes in life or living arrangements such as divorce.
Stereotypes can often portray men as the instigators or villains without considering the deep seeded issues underlying what causes them to act out in self-destructive, negative or hurtful behaviours. Men are much more susceptible to addiction and dependency issues, anger issues and social withdrawal. In modern times the workplace and financial stresses are taking an increasing toll on men’s mental health’s as they feel the pressure to be successful, providers and protectors. In particular men in rural and farming communities have been shown to suffer high rates of depression, stress and suicide due to isolation, difficulty accessing health services and the increasing financial and practical difficulties.
Mental health is a community and national issue in which we can all play a part. Look out for significant changes in behaviour and mood in loved ones, friends and colleagues particularly if you are aware of any major life changes or stresses. Signs to look for can include social withdrawal, increased substance use, decline in productivity, appearance of unhappiness or glumness, physical unwellness such as lethargy, sleeping problems and significant weight loss or gain. And don’t forget to take care of yourselves! Mental unwellness is not a sign of weakness and you don’t need to struggle on your own. There’s an increasing number of helplines and psychologists that cater specifically to men so that you can feel comfortable discussing your issues and getting help that’s relevant to you.