According to the Movember Foundation, 1 in 4 adults in the United Stated will experience a mental health problem in a given year. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states that on average, about 44,965 Americans die by suicide each year. So, why are men more likely to commit suicide? Is it true that they are more likely to suffer from a mental illness in silence?
The Types of Mental Health Issues
Although suicide greatly affects men, it is not the only type of mental illness that men are susceptible to. There are several types of mental health issues that men should be aware of. These include, but are not limited to the following:
- Substance abuse. This has become a very common problem for predominantly men. In fact, substance abuse is occurring in men at a 3 to 1 ratio when compared to females in their same age group.
- Depression affects over 6 million men in the United States each year. Men often shake depression off by categorizing it as temporary sadness rather than seeking out resources. Men that experience depression are more likely to experience anxiety during their lifetime. It is said that about 3,020,000 men have a form of anxiety.
- Bipolar disorder affects about 5.7 million people in the United States. Although men are not more likely to develop bipolar disorder, they are more likely to self-medicate rather than seeking the medical attention they need. For a man, self-medication can mean turning to drugs and alcohol or lashing out on their loved ones.
- Schizophrenia affects men differently than the women that suffer from this mental illness. It is more likely for women to be able to hold down a job and possibly have a family when they suffer from schizophrenia. This is both due to the genetic makeup of a female versus a male, as well as their likelihood to seek out help much sooner than their male counterparts. Schizophrenia develops much younger in men than women, with men developing symptoms in between ages 15-10, whereas women will develop their symptoms between 20-25 years old.
The harsh reality is that men are afraid to speak up and ask for help when it comes to their mental health. Women tend to confide in others and find outlets that allow them to cope with their feelings, such as seeking out mental health or speaking to a family member or a friend. Men have the preconceived notion that seeking help may make them seem weak or vulnerable. They seek to find ways to cover their mental illnesses because in their mind, that may be the better option to “save face.” There is a stigma around being a man that they are unable to shake: that mental health does not affect them. However what men fail to see is that they are doing themselves, and their loved ones, a disservice by not seeking help for their mental illnesses.
Seeking Help and Support
Seeking help for a mental illness is not an easy thing to do. In fact, it may be one of the most difficult things a man will have to go through during their lifetime.
The first and most crucial step for seeking mental health help is to talk to a medical professional or someone licensed to handle these illnesses and issues.
This could mean making an appointment with their general practitioner to get a referral to a therapist or psychologist or reaching out to resources in place for emergency situations. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, is a resource to speak to a professional immediately to seek help.
It is imperative for men to know that seeking help is not a sign of weakness or feebleness, but rather a sign of courage and strength. To get help, a man must admit that he needs help and seek out helpful resources. As supporters of men, it is important to remember that a good support system can make all the difference for men. Being there for your brother, father, husband or friend can allow them to feel safe enough to express their feelings and seek refuge from the situation. Support comes in many different forms and should be an opportunity to improve as both a man and as a supporter of men.
The Movember Foundation
The Movember Foundation has created and funded a wonderful resource for men called Heads Up Guys. This is a resource designed specifically for men that feel as though they are losing control of their mental health. Through this organization, both men and supporters of men can find the tools they need in order to live a healthier and happier life. It is important to note that asking for help does not have to be exclusive to the man that is suffering, as their support system can reach out to gain a better understanding of their loved one’s situation and how to help. Speaking up and seeking help takes courage, and we encourage you to do so.
The Movember Foundation, through Heads Up Guys, provides many resources that men can utilize if they are feeling depressed or having suicidal thoughts. They are dedicated to showing that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength to take their mental health into their own hands.
Throughout the year, especially during the month of November, the Movember Foundation encourages men to grow out their mustaches in efforts to spark conversation about men’s health. They encourage men to seek out professional help for preventative care and to address medical conditions, whether that be physical or mental.