While male mental health is often overlooked, the issue looms large. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, men are almost FOUR TIMES MORE LIKELY to commit suicide than women.
Men’s mental mental health is often flooded with stigma. So what is stigma exactly?
Stigma can be complex and prevalent. For these reasons, I have provided some definitions to frame the discussion. Mental health–related stigma is an umbrella term that includes social (public) stigma, self-stigma (perceived), professional stigma, and cultural stigma. Social stigma refers to the negative attitudes toward and disapproval of a person or group experiencing mental health illness rooted in misperception that symptoms of mental illness are based on a person having a weak character. These perceptions can lead to discrimination, avoidance, and rejection of persons experiencing mental illness. This is usually the type of stigma that is discussed most often. Self-stigma is the internalization of social stigma, in that the person with the mental illness feels shame about his or her symptoms.
Although men are as likely to have mental health issues as women, they are much less likely to talk about them or seek help for them. African, African American & Asian men are especially subject to social taboos that can keep them from dealing with mental illnesses.
From a young age, men are often told to “man up,” “don’t cry” or “just deal with it.” Admitting they have a mental illness and need help goes against traditional social expectations.
Men may also be concerned that if they admit they have a problem, others will think they’re unable to take care of themselves and their loved ones. Fear of being discriminated against in the workplace, perhaps looked over for promotions if people know they’re having difficulties, can also be a barrier to asking for help. And, because men don’t talk about it much, they simply may not know where to turn to for help.
The stigma around men’s mental health is rooted in several factors such as social norms, self-perception and cultural beliefs. Stigmas can make it harder for men to access the help they need.
Social & Self-Stigma
Social stigma surrounding mental health disorders can become internalized by men and lead to self-stigma. For example, conventional ideas of masculinity in society can have implications such as:
- Men may not want to talk about their feelings because they worry it might make them seem weak, or unable to handle daily stressors thrown their way.
- Men may feel like their primary job is to be a provider for their family. Acknowledging that their mental health may be suffering may cause them to fear they are putting that role in jeopardy, or compare their success, or lack thereof, to their peers
- Men are often taught at an early age not to cry or express emotions. This socially-imposed “norm” can compel men to feel shame when expressing emotion and may, bury their emotions or their desire to talk about them.
The idea of “manhood” is constantly evolving. When men feel like they need to conform to these older stereotypes of masculinity, they may feel restricted when expressing or acknowledging their emotions
Mental health is often considered a taboo subject especially in the African community. “Those experiencing mental health issues are often considered weak, broken, and not strong enough,”. This, in addition to mistrust in the Healthcare system and lack of support from the community, can lead to more men choosing not to seek help for a possible mental health condition. Making them suffer in silence assuming that they are not allowed to feel the things they do and that there is something wrong with them for being weak. While in actuality this is far from the truth. Mental health is not something one chooses to have, they are at times chemical imbalances , traumatic events & e.t.c
MEN JUST AS MUCH AS WOMEN DESREVE TO BE ABLE TO FREELY EXPRESS THEIR MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS