Men’s mental health is a topic few are talking about. The stigma that men should be “less emotional,” or that men showing emotion is “not manly” is unhealthy and incredibly false. No matter one’s gender, mental health problems can affect anyone. But unfortunately, these stigmas combined with some men having a reluctance to talk and a mindset to downplay their symptoms and “man up,” has led to men being less likely to reach out for help. For a demographic that is just as heavily affected by mental health problems, men should be comfortable with turning for help and being able to open up about how they are feeling.
Statistics for Men’s Mental Health
Across the United States, 6 million men battle depression each year, while 3 million suffer from anxiety. Men are also 4 times more likely to take their own life than women. 75% of suicides that occur within the United States are by men. With the cultural stigma of not opening up about mental health and the high rates of men that are affected by these problems, some psychologists have called the state of men’s mental health a “silent crisis.”
Substance abuse has become a coping mechanism for mental health issues. It affects men 3 times more than women and approximately 1 in 5 men deal with alcohol dependency at some point in their lives. Men who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community and military veterans are also more likely to deal with substance abuse.
Help for men struggling with their mental health
Seeking help and opening up about mental health is the biggest step men can take to care for themselves. But to help boost mental wellness, here are a few other things things men can do to help themselves each day:
1. Yoga and meditation: Channeling one’s zen is a great way to de-stress and increase positive thinking. There are many YouTube videos, apps, in-person studios, and clinics that have resources to help ease one’s way into yoga or meditation, especially for beginners.
2. Find a hobby: Having an activity that brings enjoyment, distraction, and time away from work will ease the mind and decrease stress. Whether it be a sport, cooking, or playing an instrument, it’s important to take time for yourself.
3. Get back into nature: No matter if it’s hiking, cycling or just a walk around the park, taking in fresh air and getting out of the house can be a great way to relax and increase your mental and physical health. Research has shown that being around nature is a great way to combat mental health problems such as depression.
4. Exercise: A Harvard study found that walking for an hour or running for 15 minutes can decrease the risk of major depression by 26%. Exercise can also break the cycle of your body tensing up from stress and will release endorphins that will brighten one’s mood.
5. Reflect on the positive: Before going to bed at night, think about the good things that happened throughout the day, even if it is just one or two positives. While getting up in the morning, think about the potential positives in the day to come and the meaningful experiences that could occur. Reflecting on the positives will ease your mind as you go to sleep and prepare you for your day in a more upbeat way.
And above all, remind yourself that it’s okay to not be okay.
24-hour Mental Health hotline information:
If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat
SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline, 1-877-SAMHSA7 (1-877-726-4727)