All right, let us be real about this. Men's mental health is the least talked about topic in today's modern world. "Men are men. Therefore this topic should not even be existent." If one happens to believe that, then they are as dumb as a Trump supporter. (Did not mean to get political there, or did I?) Having a mindset like that is the reason why misogyny still occurs in the 21st Century. Yes, I will explain what I mean by that. First, let us explore what we know about Men's Mental Health.
According to Mental Health America, five top major mental health problems are affecting men in America today. These problems are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis/schizophrenia, and eating disorders.
Over 6 million men suffer from depression per year. Male depression often goes undiagnosed. Men are more likely to report fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in work or hobbies, rather than feelings of sadness or worthlessness.
Approximately 19.1 million American adults ages 18 to 54 have an anxiety disorder. 3,020,000 men have a panic disorder, agoraphobia, or any other phobia.
2.3 million Americans are affected by bipolar disorder. An equal amount of men and women develop the illness. The age of onset for men is between 16 to 25 years old.
Psychosis and Schizophrenia
Approximately 3.5 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with schizophrenia, and it is one of the leading causes of disability. Ninety percent of people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia by age 30 are men.
Males account for an estimated 10% of patients with anorexia or bulimia and an estimated 35% of those with binge-eating disorder. Men with eating disorders are less likely to seek professional help than women.
Remember, these are only a few of the mental challenges most men deal with every day. As distinguishing each mental health problem is, they all lead to one unfortunate fate, suicide.
Suicide numbers have been on the rise since the last two decades; more than three-quarters of those numbers come from men. Some of the risk factors we should be on the lookout for are social isolation, substance abuse, unemployment, military-related trauma, genetic predisposition, and other mood disorders. The general question we must ask ourselves is, why don't we notice these signs? We can start with social norms. Society has always created this structure for men where they have to be the strongest and never look weak in front of others. Moreover, this creates a reaction later on where men become reluctant to talk about their mental problems and downplay symptoms. Montclair State graduate student Eliana Legelen states:
Men are less likely to seek and receive treatment because of the stigma in society. Men are supposed to be "macho" and "tough," so they view mental health and mental disorders as weaknesses, even though they are not. Mental health affects everyone, and there are so many factors that play into it, such as environment, biology, genetics, and social factors. Sometimes it is not their fault, per se, as mental disorders can also affect the brain. For instance, with depression, the brain has less serotonin than usual. For major depressive disorder (an official diagnosis in the DSM 5), depression changes the brain. It can cause it to become inflammatory; it reduces oxygen; it affects memory and emotional responses.
There is no escaping the reality that mental health exists and haunts the majority of our lives. Even fame will not protect one from their inner demons. Terry Bradshaw, a former Pittsburg Steelers quarterback, suffered frequent panic attacks. NBA player Keyon Dooling has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from years of repressed memories of sexual abuse as a child. Even Larry Sanders, center for the Milwaukee Bucks, left the NBA to address his mental health issues of anxiety and depression. Understand that these are real-life problems many different people face every day, no matter their social status.
The other day a tweet from Candace Owens caught my attention. She wrote:
There is no society that can survive without strong men. The East knows this. In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence. It is an outright attack. Bring back manly men.
When I see a post like that, I can see why certain men feel discouraged to open up about their feelings to others. As insignificant as this tweet sounds relating to men's mental health, the message behind it holds a strong belief that men should not be this personification of being soft or vulnerable; otherwise, it makes them less of a man. A civilization with this mindset is what ultimately put many men in a critical position. Men would feel abnormal to the idea of expressing their sentiments. What I cannot believe is that not everyone sees science in this. It is factual that women are physically weaker but mentally stronger. In comparison, men are physically stronger but mentally weaker. Reasonably because cortisol, the stress hormone, tends to increase more rapidly in men than in women. Men are capable of being emotional. Furthermore, most do not realize that they are stuck with the old belief, the myth that men are strong in every human life category.
The relationship between men and women plays a significant factor in both men's and women's mental health (but let us talk about the men's perspective for the sake of this post). A woman can negatively impact a man's mental health. Past experiences lead to misconceptions that have been widely accepted by many. These incidents include experiences of manipulation, untrustworthiness, unreliability, and other similar events. This notion led to the "ideal" creation of misogyny. For those that do not know, misogyny is the hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women, manifested in various forms such as physical intimidation and abuse, sexual harassment and rape, social shunning and ostracism( exclusion from social acceptance, privileges). Men use this kind of force to substitute their pain and retaliate against others for their emotional distress.
Look, no one is blaming men or women for the way things are in society today. The fact is that the people back then did not know any better. There were no studies of the human mind or any acknowledgment of mental health until the 20th Century. Even then, communities have formed, and people lived together for years before. Hence, much of society's constructs have developed since then. Though, if there is one thing that we can guarantee, it is that we can change our society. We can evolve to do better. So what could we do to improve our culture when it comes to Men's Mental Health?
Reduce the social stigma, normalize to society that it is okay to feel sad, have a mental disorder, and talk about emotions, no matter the gender.
Learn to watch out for what we say when it relates to mental health. Avoid words like "retarded" and other derogatory terms.
Educate society about mental health to promote seeking treatments, and encourage others not to talk it down.
Source: Mental Health America (mhanational.org), Eliana Legelen ( B.A. in Psychology, Montclair State Graduate)
Written By: George M.