Men and Mental Health: A Silent Crisis
Many of my male patients have told me that they feel like mental health issues among men are not talked about enough. The rates of conditions like depression and anxiety are rising among men. Certain mental health conditions have been more prevalent among women but the gap between the amount of men with mental health disorders like depression compared to women is decreasing. In Canada, 4 out of 5 suicides are men (CMHA). 1 in 10 men face depression during their lifetime (CAMH). 1 in 6 men face anxiety during their lifetime (Anxiety Canada).
A Men’s Health Issue
Many scholars believe that men are less likely to report issues with their mood or anxiety levels and are more likely to underemphasize the severity of their symptoms. Men may tend to focus on the physical aspects of their mental health conditions (like pain and digestion issues) and ignore psychological symptoms like sadness, worry and panic. Data also suggests that emotional suffering may look different in men and may present as anger, irritability and alcohol or drug overuse. So men are dealing with underreporting and underdiagnosis of mental heath issues.
Some men do recognize that they need mental health support but I’ve often been told by my male patients that they’re not satisfied with the professional care they’ve received in the past. It’s interesting to note that health care providers have been found to be less likely to spend as much time focusing on psychological concerns with men.
Societal norms (such as certain beliefs about masculinity) are believed to be part of the reason why men are less likely to recognize and seek out help for things like anxiety and depression. An interesting 2018 research review noted that men are often blamed and considered stubborn for not seeking help but this view can be a form of “victim blaming” that ignores the role that culture and society play in influencing a man’s decision to get mental health support. This paper also noted that there may be a lack of sympathy for men struggling with their mental health (PMID 29673270).
Mental Health Resources for Men
I work with many men and women who are trying to manage their anxiety and I’m passionate about creating an environment where everyone feels like they can talk about whatever concerns are troubling them without fear of judgement or stigmatization. I’m hoping that with the right research and public health action as well as individual action, we as a society can start helping men feel more supported with their mental health.
Here are some great mental health resources for men:
Dr. Samantha Dass is currently a naturopathic doctor working at Holland Landing Health Centre in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, which services Holland Landing, Newmarket, Aurora, Keswick and Bradford areas. If you are interested in naturopathic services please contact Holland Landing Health Centre at 905-853-7900 or via e-mail at [email protected]