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Mind Over Masculinity: Breaking the Stigma of Men’s Mental Health

Mental health is a crucial part of our overall well-being, yet it remains a topic that is often misunderstood, stigmatized, and overlooked, especially for men. For far too long, men have been expected to suppress their emotions, to tough it out, to soldier on through difficult times. This resulted in a significant gap in our understanding of men’s mental health needs and an alarming disparity in the rates of suicide, substance abuse, and other mental health issues among men.

By breaking down the walls of stigma and shame surrounding men’s mental health, we can start addressing this critical issue with compassion, understanding, and empathy. Here we will explore the importance of men’s mental health, the challenges men face when seeking help, and the available treatment options that can help them achieve greater emotional well-being and fulfillment.

Sobering Statistics

• Men are more likely to die by suicide than women. In the United States, men account for nearly 75% of all suicides.

• Men are less likely to seek help for mental health issues than women. In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, only 35% of men reported they would seek help from a mental health professional, compared to 58% of women.

• Men are more likely to struggle with certain mental health conditions. For example, men are more likely to be diagnosed with alcohol dependence and antisocial personality disorder, while women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders.

• Men are more likely to experience workplace stress and burnout. According to a survey by The American Institute of Stress, men are more likely to report feeling overwhelmed at work and are less likely to take time off to care for their mental health.

• Men are more likely to engage in risky behaviors as a coping mechanism. This can include substance abuse, reckless driving, and other dangerous activities.

Importance of Men’s Mental Health

Men’s mental health is important for many reasons.

1. Mental health issues can severely affect a man’s quality of life. This includes relationships, work, and personal goals.

2. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions can impact a person’s ability to function, causing them to feel hopeless, isolated, and overwhelmed.

3. Untreated mental health conditions can lead to physical health issues like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

4. Mental health issues can have a ripple effect on those around them, including family members, friends, and colleagues.

5. When men struggle with mental health issues, it can impact their relationships and those closest to them.

6. Addressing men’s mental health is crucial for building a more equitable society that prioritizes all individuals’ well-being, regardless of gender.

Contributing Factors

Several factors contribute to men’s reluctance to seek help for mental health issues. These include societal expectations of masculinity, mental health stigma, and a lack of awareness about available resources.

Men are often expected to be strong, stoic, and self-sufficient, making it difficult to acknowledge their struggles and ask for help. Additionally, mental health stigma can make men feel ashamed or weak for struggling with mental health issues, further preventing them from seeking help.

Treatment Options for Men’s Mental Health

Fortunately, several treatment options are available for men struggling with mental health issues. These include:

• Therapy: Talk therapy can involve working with a mental health professional to identify and address mental health issues. Therapy can be conducted in person, online, or over the phone and can help men develop coping strategies, manage symptoms, and improve their overall mental health.

• Medication: In some cases, medication can be used to treat mental health issues. This may include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, or mood stabilizers. Medication can help manage symptoms and improve overall mental health but should always be prescribed and monitored by a healthcare professional.

• Support groups: Support groups can be valuable for men struggling with mental health issues. These groups provide a safe space for men to share their experiences, connect with others going through similar challenges, and receive emotional support.

• Lifestyle changes: Making lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and practicing stress-management techniques, can also improve mental health. These changes can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve mood, and promote overall well-being.

• Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): ECT uses brief, low-energy electrical pulses to stimulate nerve-cell activity in the part of the brain that affects mood. Stimulating this area helps to alleviate symptoms of depression. The electrical impulses are delivered through electrodes placed on the scalp. Patients are given anesthesia to relax and ensure the procedure is pain-free.

• Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): TMS is an FDA-approved outpatient treatment that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerves in the brain non-invasively. This innovative and safe technique requires no sedation or anesthesia and successfully treats individuals suffering from Major Depressive Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Published reports from TMS treatment studies for depression show that more than half of patients treated with TMS Therapy experienced significant improvements in symptoms, and one-third of patients experienced full remission of their depressive episodes.

Disclaimer: The content in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and should not serve as medical advice, consultation, or diagnosis.  If you have a medical concern, please consult your healthcare provider, or seek immediate medical treatment. 

 

 

Original post

Written by: Eric Tirrell, clinical manager of the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) program and the research operations manager for the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in Neuromodulation at Butler Hospital and Joshua Davis a program therapist in the Butler Hospital’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program.